Migrant Issues Persist in Northern European Routes

Migrant Issues Persist in Northern European Routes

Earlier in the year we published an article about Sweden introducing border checks over increased numbers of migrants attempting to cross into the country from Denmark. For example, the Immingham-Esbjerg freight ferry route involves driving across Denmark to the Oresund bridge in order to get to Sweden - the same land route arguably targeted by migrants. Yet, this action by Sweden has caused political problems, and continues to exacerbate a political fall out with Denmark.

These new identity checks for all travellers arriving from Denmark via the Oresund bridge are considered to be both a benefit and a constraint to Sweden, a country that sees itself as deeply liberal.

During 2015 Europe struggled to cope with the migrant crisis that engulfed the continent. The Port of Calais, culminating in severe traffic problems at Dover experienced many problems. Kent County Council took the action to implement its traffic control management system otherwise known as OpStack.

Sweden, while geographically much larger than Britain for example, has a very sparse population of 9 million compared with our highly dense population of 65 million. In 2015 Sweden received more than 150,000 asylum applications, more than the UK but many here would argue Sweden has the space and capacity to take those migrants. Yet there are groups within Sweden that do not agree.

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Despite the extra border controls by Sweden, more vehicles crossed the Øresund by ferry on the Helsingør and Helsingborg route during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2015. In fact it was a 6 percent increase. Although some in the ferry industry point out that the Easter festival occurred earlier in 2016 than it did last year.*

However these figures are misleading. Apparently since the introduction of the extra border checks, ferry traffic has declined. Henrik Rørbæk, the managing director of HH Ferries said, "Following the introduction of ID controls at the beginning of 2016, we have experienced a decline in ferry traffic because passengers think the trip has become cumbersome due to more ID checks”. HH Ferries declared that there is no evidence to illustrate that the extra border checks have resulted in significant delay.

According to a recent report from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden (CCISS), the increased security could cost both coutries 1.2 billion kroner.

The ongoing debate over the border checks is creating tension between Denmark and Sweden. It has been reported that commuters and tourists trying to move between the two countries are inconvenienced, delayed, and some claim 'harassed'. It is alleged that some tourists who experienced security profiling at the border said it was because they were 'not blonde'.

However, all these stories are refuted by ferry companies and the government of Sweden - as pointed out already, they say there is no evidence of delays and everything runs as smoothly today as it did before the extra checks came into force.

If you have any questions about ID checks at the Oresund Bridge there's more info here

Source: News Øresund.

01 June 2016

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