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Monday, January 04, 2016 8:33 PM

Denmark "Temporarily" Tightens Border Controls; Trains Cancelled; Cascade of Border Controls Grows; Understanding the Problems

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There are so many "temporary" border controls in the EU I have lost count. Fences, train checks, walls, payoffs to Turkey, pressure on Greece, are among the methods.

Today we can add another "temporary" measure to the list as Denmark Tightens Border Controls with Germany.

Denmark has imposed controls on its southern frontier with Germany in a move that is intended to stem the flow of migrants but will also deepen concerns about Europe’s fraying commitment to the free movement of people.

Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Danish prime minister, said the decision was prompted by Sweden’s move hours earlier to introduce identity checks for all passengers arriving by train, bus or ferry from Denmark.

“The new Swedish requirement for ID checks poses a serious risk of a large number of asylum seekers accumulating in a short time, for example in and around Copenhagen, threatening public order and safety. We do not want this,” he said at a hastily called press conference on Monday.

The Danish controls are temporary and will last for the next 10 days but can be extended. Distinct from the Swedish measures, they will involve random checks and will not automatically require all cars and passengers crossing from Germany to show their passports. Mr Rasmussen said Angela Merkel, German chancellor, and the European Commission had been notified.

Sweden was long regarded as Europe’s most generous country to asylum-seekers, offering permanent residence in recent years to Iraqis and then Syrians. But after a surge in the number of asylum seekers last year, Sweden’s centre-left government buckled under pressure from local authorities and the public to crack down on immigration.

The controls have stoked tensions between Sweden and Denmark, where the centre-right government and its centre-left predecessor have been critical of Stockholm’s generous immigration policies.

Hans Christian Schmidt, Denmark’s transport minister, said: “It is sad that Swedes have run a failed immigration policy which now means that they are forced to do this. It is sad and annoying for the whole region.”

The anti-immigration Danish People’s party that acts as the main support for Mr Rasmussen’s government in parliament, has long called for border controls and celebrated their arrival.

“A step in the right direction . . . Schengen has collapsed. The illusion of external borders has burst. Why does it take such a long time to recognise this?” Kristian Thulesen Dahl, the party’s leader, wrote on Facebook.
Cascade of Border Controls Grows

The Wall Street Journal reports Sweden and Denmark Step Up Border Controls in Bid to Slow Flow of Migrants
Sweden began enforcing tighter border controls Monday to curb the influx of asylum seekers, prompting Denmark to begin similar checks in a further weakening of Europe’s principle of open borders.

Sweden warned weeks ago that it would impose systematic identification checks at its borders, saying that the country of close to 10 million people was already straining to cope with the estimated 160,000 migrants who arrived in the Nordic nation last year.

Fearing that it would become the new destination for migrants unable to reach Sweden, Denmark said Monday that it was stepping up controls along its border with Germany.

To the north, Sweden, Denmark and Norway have chosen to erect administrative barriers, rather than physical ones. In Storskog, the Arctic border post between Norway and Russia—along an Arctic route some refugees and other migrants have chosen as more obstacles emerge on the trail through southeastern Europe—Norwegian authorities have stopped allowing in asylum seekers since Nov. 30.

Germany, one of the main destinations for migrants pouring into Europe, has also sought to stem the human tide also by imposing document checks at some of its borders.

Transport companies have complained that the controls place too much responsibility on their shoulders, that their staff are poorly prepared to check documents and that stations aren’t designed to restrict pedestrian access to trains and buses. Swedish train operator SJ has suspended services to Denmark until it can iron out such problems.
Schengen Agreement Not the Problem

Problems are many, but the Schengen agreement that allows free movement between participating countries is not one of them. Here is a synopsis of the key issues.

Six Fundamental Problems

  1. The US and UK destabilized the Mideast. Meddling in Iraq created ISIS. US backing of alleged "moderate" Al Qaeda terrorists expanded the civil war in Syria. The US attempt to oust Syrian president Assad with no stable replacement was an enormous mistake.
  2. There are insufficient border controls between Schengen countries and non-Schengen countries.
  3. A ridiculous EU rule states that refugees must register in the country of first entry. That puts tremendous pressure on the peripheral countries. Greece is not up to the task.
  4. The high level of guaranteed benefits for refugees in German and Sweden acts as a magnet, near and far.
  5. There is no clear distinction between political refugee, economic refugee, and war refugee. Someone who has escaped the war in Syria to Lebanon or Turkey, has by definition already escaped. Further migration to Germany or Sweden makes them economic refugees, not political or war refugees.
  6. Welcoming refugees with open arms as did German chancellor Angela Merkel and Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven openly invited trouble. And trouble arrived by the millions.

Given there is an unlimited demand for free services, free food, and free shelter, the refugee crisis will not go away until those six fundamental problems are fixed.

No key political leader in Europe understands the problem, especially chancellor Merkel. This refugee crisis will be her downfall.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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