Sweden imposes identity checks on travellers from Denmark for the first time in 50 years, amid a record influx of asylum seekers.
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (JANUARY 4, 2016) (TV4) – Sweden began checking documents of travellers from Denmark on Monday (January 4) for the first time in half a century amid a record influx of migrants.
Travellers taking the train to the southern Swedish city of Malmo had their IDs checked at the Kastrup station at Copenhagen’s main airport, before being allowed to board.
The move caused delays of up to 50 minutes for trains and buses crossing the 4.9 mile (7.9 km) Oresund Bridge, Europe’s longest combined road and rail bridge.
However private vehicles were exempt from the checks.
A fence has also been erected between the two train lines at Kastrup to ensure that all travellers pass through the ID checks.
Last year some 163,000 refugees sought asylum in Sweden, the largest number for any EU country relative to its population. But with arrivals running at around 10,000 a week in November, mostly travelling through Denmark, the Swedish government has said it is time to tighten border controls and asylum rules.
Thousands of commuters daily use the Oresund Bridge to shuttle by car, train and bus between the Danish capital and Malmo.
More than one million migrants fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and beyond sought shelter in Europe in 2015 and many more are expected to come during 2016.
The unprecedented numbers have strained to breaking point the EU’s free movement policy and its attempts to create a single economic area, with several countries temporarily re-introducing border controls.
ID-free travel within the Nordic region – long a popular magnet for migrants due to its high standards of living and generous social welfare benefits – dates back long before the Schengen accord to the 1950s, when Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland signed a passport union.
Around 15,000 commuters cross the strait between Sweden and Denmark every day and there are worries that businesses in Sweden’s Skane region and in Copenhagen will be hit.
The move by Sweden to demand that transport companies check the IDs of travellers prompted Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen to announce that his country would in turn impose similar controls on the border with Germany.