Last year's migrant crisis dealt a heavy blow to the decades-long cross-border cooperation between Sweden and Denmark. The transnational Øresund region, which has enjoyed unrestricted travel since 1950s, saw a return of border controls in November 2015. Today, ID checks between Sweden and Denmark have destroyed the labor market in the region.
Boasting a total population of almost four million people, the Øresund region is a transnational metropolitan area centered around the Swedish region of Skåne (capital city Malmö) and the Danish region of Zealand (capital city Copenhagen). Besides being one of Scandinavia's most densely populated areas, the Øresund region plays a major role in the economies of Sweden and Denmark, as thousands of people commute daily over the Øresund Bridge connecting the two states.
The reintroduction of ID checks and border controls has affected jobs, trade, tourism and travel times in the region, a recent report by the Administrative Board of Skåne pointed out. Traveling times between Copenhagen and Malmö increased by 30 to 60 minutes, with departures being heavily reduced at peak hours. Even the Øresund labor market took a beating, Danish and Swedish employers indicate. Half of all major Danish companies report that it has become considerably more difficult to recruit Swedish personnel, Swedish news outlet Norra Skåne reported. Earlier this year, angry workers were reported to have left their jobs in both Denmark and Sweden out of frustration over the commuting schedule.
In conclusion, the Administrative Board of Skåne stated that border controls and ID checks are destroying the hard-achieved integration, which is why they should be moved to the Danish-German border.
The border controls, which according to an estimate from the South Swedish Chamber of Commerce cost the both countries three million kronor per day (some $360,000), were introduced in a bid to stop the influx of refugees and combat human trafficking. In the hectic months of the autumn of 2015, Sweden was receiving thousands of asylum-seekers per day.
The Swedish government justified the reintroduction of border controls with the risk of terrorism and the need for control over those entering the country. But so far this year, thousands of asylum seekers have been crossing the border without permission, indicating that the goal is hardly satisfied, Per Löwenberg of the national border police pointed out to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet earlier this year.
Despite the fact that both countries saw the number of asylum applications drop after the reintroduction of border controls, human trafficking remains a painful issue for the authorities. Earlier this year, Danish humanitarian organization Medmenneskesmuglerne, which previously landed in hot water for smuggling undocumented refugees to Sweden, pledged to resort to boat sailings across the Øresund Straight to bypass ID checks on the both sides of the Øresund Bridge. Earlier this year, the authorities' decision to prolong border controls caused outrage among human rights activists who claim that identification requirements restrict the right to asylum.
According to pollster Norstat, 58 percent of Danes are in favor of permanent border controls, whereas 34 percent oppose this idea, Danish news outlet Altinget reported earlier this month.
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