Schengen Zone under threat, as Denmark tightens border controls

Photo: L@rsson

The future of the Schengen Zone could be in danger, as Denmark has become the latest country to tighten its border controls.

France introduced indefinite border controls last year, following the terrorist attacks in its capital city, as part of an overall security measure against potential threats entering the country unchecked.

Since then, though, other countries have begun to follow suit. Yesterday, Sweden tightened its border controls to deter any migrants entering the country from Denmark. The two nations are joined by the Oresund bridge, which connects Malmo to Copenhagen, but Sweden has now introduced border checks on the bridge, which is making it tougher not just for migrants but also regular commuters.

Around 20,000 people travel across the bridge every day for work, but the new controls will make it harder for them, delaying their journeys and potentially leaving them unable to enter the country without the correct documents.

The checks also extend to ferries between Helsingor and Helsingbord, as the conutry tries to prevent refugees applying for asylum in Sweden.

Now, Denmark has responded by reintroducing its own border controls.

“Due to these measures set in place by our neighbouring countries and particularly the measures set in place by Sweden, Denmark is of [sic] now faced with a serious risk to public order and internal security because a very large number of illegal immigrants may be stranded in the Copenhagen area within a short period of time,” wrote Danish Minister of Integration Inger Stojberg to the European Commission.

Danish National Police estimates that more than 91,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the border between Denmark and Germany since September 2015, with half of those not in possession of a passport or lawful ID, while the majority have travelled to either Sweden or Norway.

The controls will initially be concentrated on the ferries arriving from Germany to the harbours in Gedser, Roedby and Roenne, and the land border between Denmark and Germany.

“The scope of the control will be limited to what is strictly necessary to respond to the threat to public order and internal security,” adds Stojberg.

“The Danish Government has been considering the situation very carefully, and at this point other measures have – after detailed consideration – been deemed insufficient.”

Border controls will be in force until 14th January 2016.

Martin Schaefer from German’s foreign ministry told the press that the moves placed the future of the passport-free zone within Europe that has existed for years in danger.

“Freedom of movement is an important principle – one of the biggest achievements (in the European Union) in recent years,” he commented.