Some 1.5 million people are forecast to attempt to reach Europe from the Middle East this year.
Mr. Schaefer told reporters in Berlin on Monday that the Schengen system “is very important, but it’s in danger due to the flow of refugees”. Germany introduced border controls of its own on the Austrian frontier in mid-Sept.
To implement these new border controls, the Swedish government has secured a non-permanent exemption from the Schengen agreement, or open borders treaty, that all member states are party to.
Security staff check passenger IDs at Kastrup airport’s train station outside Copenhagen, Denmark on January 4, 2015.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said today Europe needs to take collective decisions to protect external borders, having imposed temporary passport checks at its border with Germany.
“When other Nordic countries seal their borders it can have major consequences for Denmark“, he said. About 13,000 applied for asylum in Denmark, while others traveled further north to Sweden, Norway and Finland, Loekke Ramussen said.
When the new Swedish rules were announced last month, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said they “could have the effect of preventing individuals from exercising the right to seek asylum”. But the government now says it has to restrict numbers.
Schleswig-Holstein has taken in around 50,000 of the more than one million refugees who arrived in 2015.
“They said this is not a passport”. “They’ve had no foresight at all”. The measures are expected to mostly affect the travelers from Denmark.
Denmark, fearing a renewed refugee influx, stood by the move in the face of criticism from its southern neighbor, which has borne the brunt of the continent’s refugee crisis.
“People are calling it the new iron curtain”, Michael Randropp, a spokesman for the local Kystbanen commuters’ association, told the Telegraph.
Sweden is the latest European Union country to install stronger border controls in response to the refugee crisis.
The Swedish government initially had a welcoming attitude to migrants from conflict-ridden countries such as Afghanistan or Syria, The Christian Science Monitor reported in September. Sweden was then forced to backtrack on its generous refugee policy, arguing that Europe’s failure to share the burden of absorbing refugees made its position untenable.
Anna Johansson, Sweden’s minister for infrastructure, said she was aware “of possible delays” and inconvenience for cross-border commuters, but said the measures were necessary. “It’s quite sad to see that, now that Sweden has started to decide to have fewer asylum seekers, more countries are following”.
Those heading to Sweden by train will have to disembark in Copenhagen, before going through identity checks and embarking another train to continue the journey.
Brussels has granted Sweden a six-month exemption from the Schengen agreement on free circulation to allow it carry out ID checks on all travellers arriving from Denmark. The development “could certainly make the economic situation very much worse”, he said in an interview in Stockholm.