This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Following emergency talked on Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone, Sweden and Denmark have agreed to lift temporary border crossing restrictions as soon as possible.
The emergency meeting was called by EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos after Denmark enacted spot checks on its border with Germany, and Sweden restricted the crossing of its own border with Denmark.
“We agreed to keep (the measures) to a minimum and return to normal as soon as possible. This means the flows have to be slowed down,” Avramopoulos said following the meeting in Brussels.
“We all agreed that Schengen and free movement must be safeguarded,” he added.
The fate of the EU’s Schengen zone came into question in the wake of more than a million refugees and migrants arriving in Europe in 2015, many of them fleeing the civil war in Syria. This kind of flow of people has not been seen since World War Two.
Many countries reintroduced border controls to stem the flow of people trying to arrive in Europe’s wealthy, northern countries after arriving at the continent’s main landing point in Greece.
According to Schengen rules, border checks can be reintroduced for periods up to six months long. However, Sweden’s migration minister, Morgan Johansson, said that the new controls “should not be put in place longer than we need.”
Border control are a necessity at the moment, he said, because Sweden has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU state: 160,000 asylum applications in the last year, including 26,000 unaccompanied minors. 115,000 of them arrives in the last four months.
Denmark’s migration minister, Inger Støjberg, said they were “monitoring the situation by the hour,” but added that “in Denmark we don’t wish to be the final destination for thousands and thousands of asylum seekers.”