The Oresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark has been a towering symbol of European integration ever since it opened in 2001. New travel restrictions imposed by Swedish authorities are an example of how national boundaries are re-emerging.
The Finnish government has also decided to strengthen its border surveillance after several hundred illegal migrants have entered into Finland via Sweden.
Previously the Scandinavian countries thought that refugees would come in a controlled fashion they have now awakened to the reality, and now Norway, as several other European countries, considers introducing passport control. Norwegian authorities have realized that a large part of those who come to Sweden will head to Norway, because Sweden is about to collapse under the massive migration.
Sweden received more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The refugee situation in northern Finland is out of control,” says Minister of Interior, Petteri Orpo to the television station Yle.
When Finland criticized the Swedish railway (SJ) for allowing illegal migrants to travel from Sweden to Finland, SJ justified this decision and claimed that the state railway wanted to “act kindly and humane”.
There has been large amounts of asylum seekers, everything from a dozen up to about one hundred per train,” said the Finnish railway’s Communication Director Mika Heihari to Yle.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa is now going through southern Europe with only one goal, Germany and Scandinavia.
Now Swedish politicians claim they will probably have to take up big loans to finance the hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who are expected this and the coming years. The Swedish economy is simply not prepared for such enormous costs.
Andreas Orrefors, an associate professor in intellectual history, who lives in Lund, on the Swedish side of the Oresund Bridge, says that the clock has been turned back. “We’re going back in time when the bridge didn’t exist,” he says. He’s studied on both sides and taught students from both Sweden and Denmark.
Closing the borders in Scandinavia is supposedly temporary but is likely to be extended if Europe’s migrant crisis continues in 2016.
Only in Finland 150 people have been assigned specifically to handle the migration chaos.
Refugees in Sweden, not satisfied with being housed in abandoned military camps, cottages and former manors, are heading for the neighboring country, Norway, where welfare benefits are even better and the system not yet broke.
“It’s basically every country for itself now,” said Mark Rhinard, an expert on the European Union at the Swedish institute of international Affairs.
Refugees crossing the border from Russia to Norway reached an unprecedented number, and an agreement between Russia and Norway has been settled to stop the traffic there.
“There is a clause in the Schengen Agreement which gives member states the option of introducing border and passport control if one fears for national security,” says Secretary of the Norwegian Justice Department, Jøran Kallmyr.
Both the Danish and the Norwegian governments have taken a series of measures to discourage migrants from going there, including a proposal to seize their jewelry to cover their expenses.
“There are 22 million Syrians, and this has put enormous forces in action,” says EU expert Paal Frisvold. “”It’s an intersection here between openness and generosity and being caught off guard. I think this is clearly a sign that the situation is out of control.”
The new ID checks between Denmark and Sweden mean there will be no more direct railway service from Copenhagen’s main station to Sweden. Travelers heading to Malmo will have to switch trains at Copenhagen Airport after going through the checkpoints there, adding an estimated half an hour to the 40-minute commute.
Scandinavian Borders and Migration, written by Tor Kjolberg
Immigration Tensions in Scandinavia