Denmark could impose ID checks on German rail, bus operators

Copenhagen is considering identity checks for those entering Denmark by mass transport, the country's migration minister said Wednesday

Sweden imposed a similar measure on Denmark at the start of the week, in an effort to control the number of migrants reaching that country via its Scandinavian neighbour. Hours later, Copenhagen temporarily reintroduced identity checks on its border with Germany, the only country with which it shares a land border.

The three countries are members of Europe's Schengen border-free zone, which is being put to the test by an influx of migrants and asylum seekers. More than 1 million people reached the continent last year, with many fleeing war and conflict in countries such as Syria.

Germany and Sweden are among the most common destinations for people arriving in the European Union, with Denmark - sandwiched between them - also feeling the pressure.

"We don't wish to be the final destination for thousands and thousands of asylum seekers," said Danish migration Minister Inger Stojberg, after talks in Brussels with Swedish and German officials.

"We are ... monitoring the situation hour by hour and, if necessary, we will put the carrier liability into force," she said of the plans to impose checks on passengers to Denmark, noting that it could happen with "very short notice."

But German State Secretary of the Interior Ole Schroeder said the Danish authorities "do not plan to introduce this possibility" at present, adding that the two sides were in close contact.

Since early September, some 91,000 refugees have arrived in Denmark from Germany, of whom 13,000 applied for asylum. The others continued to Sweden and Norway, according to Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

The proposed expansion of identity checks on mass transport would come on top of already-existing controls on individual vehicles at land crossings.

Danish police said Wednesday that 1,366 people underwent spot checks at the joint border with Germany the previous day, of whom 36 were denied entry to Denmark. One person was suspected of trafficking.

The Danish Immigration and Integration Ministry said 111 applications for asylum were registered Tuesday, according to preliminary figures.

But Sweden, which has one of the Europe's highest numbers of asylum seekers per capita, has been contending with far greater figures.

The country received 160,000 asylum seekers last year, said Swedish Migration Minister Morgan Johansson, adding that 26,000 unaccompanied minors and children had arrived in the last four months alone - or "1,000 school classes."

Meanwhile, Germany has had an average daily influx of 3,200 asylum seekers, Schroeder noted.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos had called the talks to improve coordination between the three countries after Denmark's reintroduction of border checks - a step already taken by Germany, Sweden, Autria, France and non-EU member Norway, which is also in Schengen.

Schroeder said countries had to act alone due to a lack of solutions at the European level, pointing out that measures such as an EU-wide fingerprint database and plans to redistribute asylum seekers within the bloc were not working properly.

EU capitals have been divided over how best to tackle the bloc's migration crisis.

Last month, the European Commission proposed new steps to strengthen the EU's external borders. But some aspects face resistance, notably regarding the deployment of EU border guards to countries that have not requested such an intervention.

Last update: Wed, 06/01/2016 - 16:29

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