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    Swedish police prepare to check an incoming train at the Swedish end of the bridge between Sweden and Denmark in Malmo, Sweden

    Sweden Has Second Thoughts About ID Checks One Week After Repeal

    © AFP 2019 / TT NEWS AGENCY / STIG-AKE JONSSON
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    Last week, the Swedish government decided to repeal ID checks at the Swedish border after being pressured by the EU. However, the ID controls may soon be back due to a sharp increase in asylum immigration.

    The ID checks, which largely irked both Swedish and Danish commuters in Scandinavia's most densely-populated Øresund region and were said to have a detrimental effect on both countries' economy, were abolished for people traveling by train, bus and ferry. The repeal, however, triggered a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers, which critics had predicted.

    In April, approximately 50 people per day sought asylum in Sweden. On Monday alone, however, 112 asylum seekers were registered, which is more than twice as many. Furthermore, the number was reported to have increased gradually ever since the controls were abandoned. Additionally, an increase in the number of people who were rejected at the Swedish border was also registered. Earlier this year, an average of 40 to 100 people were rejected each week. Last weekend alone, however, 88 people were rejected, the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan reported.

    As the controls were waived following the alleged stabilization of asylum seekers' influx, Swedish Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson emphasized that the government was prepared to reinstate ID controls "should the need arise."

    "We are prepared to reinstate them if a corresponding assessment is made from the authorities," Anna Johansson said.

    According to Maja Zachrisson, Press Communications Officer at the Infrastructure Ministry, the government's message about re-introduction of ID checks remains in force. However, there was no set threshold of immigration needed for the reinstatement of controls, she added.

    The Danish train company DSB resolved to keep all the equipment for ID checks at hand in order to reposition ID control details within a few days' notice.

    Previously, Michael Mattsson, the head of the Swedish Border Police in the South Region, predicted that the number of asylum seekers was likely to increase further as the message of the abolition of ID checks spread across the globe.

    "I think this is just the beginning of what can happen in the future. The message that the ID checks are gone must be spread before we can actually feel the big effect here in Sweden," Michael Mattsson told Swedish Radio.

    Last week, a number of high-ranking politicians, including Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, cheered at Sweden's decision to abolish ID checks, which was said to be soon followed by the repeal of temporary border controls, in accordance with EU guidelines. According to the EU Commission's recent recommendations, "internal" border controls in Sweden, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Norway are to be phased out within six months.

    However, the decision to scrap ID checks also triggered a massive outcry from, among others, the Border Police, which cited a dramatic lack of resources to keep track of the recent developments, and the Conservative Party, which voiced concern over the government's migration policy.

    Conservative integration spokesperson Elisabeth Svantesson called this decision "premature" and "ill-conceived" in a series of tweets, whereas her fellow immigration spokesman Johan Forsell called the abolition of border controls "risky." According to Forsell, Sweden was in danger of repeating "what happened in the fall of 2015," when tens of thousands of asylum seekers showed up at the Swedish border. At the peak of the migrant crisis, Sweden took in 163,000 migrants.

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    Topic:
    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (161)

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