Sweden Introduce Border Check over Migrant Crisis
Sweden has introduced identity checks for all travellers arriving from Denmark. This new security measure, introduced off the back of political pressure over the increases in the numbers of migrants entering the country, will be both a benefit and a constraint to liberal Sweden.
During 2015 Europe remembers well the migrant crisis that engulfed the continent, much of which centred on Germany and the Port of Calais, culminating in severe traffic problems this side of the Channel at Dover. In 2015 Sweden received more than 150,000 asylum applications - remember Sweden, while geographically large has a very sparse population of less than 10 million.
How will this affect lorry and van drivers? It means delays crossing the bridge, no one knows yet how severe but there is a political row developing between Sweden and Denmark over it.
The Immingham-Esbjerg freight ferry route involves driving across Denmark to the Oresund bridge in order to get to Sweden.
There are a number of alternative routes available if you want to avoid the Oresund bridge; one of them is the Immingham-Brevik route to Norway which involves a straight road trip to Sweden via Oslo from Port Brevik. The other way involves a driver crossing the Channel via the Dover Straits and either using the Tunnel at Folkstone or a ferry from Dover, Folkestone, Harwich, or Newhaven. Obviously this involves a drive across France, into Germany, then taking another ferry from Travemunde or Rostock across to Sweden.
All travellers requiring travel across the Oresund bridge, or via ferry services, will be refused entry without the necessary documents. More than 15,000 commuters daily cross the Oresund bridge, connecting Malmo and Lund with the Danish capital, Copenhagen.
But will this really affect UK freight and logistics companies? Potentially yes. In response to Sweden's measures, Denmark has stepped up border controls with Germany, its southern neighbour, creating an almost domino effect of paranoia. Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the Danish PM, argues that the new Swedish border checks will cause serious disruption to traffic flows from Denmark. A new political row has developed between the two countries because it's feared the disruption will damage tourism, and private rail companies - shareholders are naturally nervous and skeptical of investment. There is also an increasing row over why private companies should be responsible for checking I.D and who bears the cost of all this security.
A spokesman from Germany's foreign ministry told the AFP news agency: "Freedom of movement is an important principle, one of the biggest EU achievements in recent years ... Schengen is very important but it is in danger."
WARNING: transport companies will be fined 50,000 Swedish krona (approx £4,000; €5,400) if travellers to Sweden do not have a valid photo ID. UK lorry and van drivers require a valid passport because UK citizens are not members of Schengen. So expect delays crossing the bridge as all passports and ID cards are validated.
The Swedish government secured a temporary exemption from the European Union's open-border Schengen agreement, in order to impose these new border controls, so it cannot be a long term solution for Sweden.