Denmark has imposed temporary identity checks on its border with Germany following a similar move by Sweden, dealing a double blow to Europe’s fraying passport-free Schengen area amid a record influx of refugees.
Sweden began checking documents of travellers from Denmark for the first time in half a century, causing delays of up to 50 minutes for trains and buses crossing the Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmo.
Private vehicles were exempt from the checks.
Denmark’s prime minister said Sweden’s move gave his country no option but to impose its own border controls and he appealed to the European Union to take “collective decisions” to better protect its external borders against the tide of migrants.
“The Swedish ID checks can increase the risk of a large number of illegal immigrants to accumulate in and around Copenhagen,” Lars Lokke Rasmussen said.
Last year, 163,000 refugees sought asylum in Sweden.
But with arrivals running at around 10,000 a week in November, mostly travelling through Denmark, the Swedish government has said it is time to tighten border controls and asylum rules.
“A dark day for our Nordic region,” former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said on Twitter.
Rasmussen said border controls would last for 10 days but could be extended.
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