Sweden Introduces ID Checks to Curb Refugee Arrivals

The sun sets over the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark, in Malmo, Sweden on Sunday. From midnight on Sunday, travellers attempting to pass without relevant documents will be refused entry, in an attempt to reduce the number of migrants arriving in the country. Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/Reuters

Sweden has implemented identity checks on those arriving from neighboring Denmark in the hope of lessening the number of refugees arriving and claiming asylum. The two countries are linked by the Oresund bridge, which visitors can cross using train, bus and ferry services. From midnight on Sunday, those attempting to pass without the relevant documents were refused entry.

Every day, thousands cross the bridge as they commute to work either in Denmark or Sweden. The bridge links the Danish capital of Copenhagen with the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund. Now, those attempting to cross by train will be asked to change at Copenhagen Airport and pass through checkpoints there, the BBC reports.

This end to the direct train crossing into Sweden is expected to nearly double people's 40-minute commute by adding on an extra half hour. Rail operators have already warned of significant delays. Some have begun reducing services: Sweden's state-owned operator SJ said last month that it would have to stop trains to Denmark as it didn't have the capability to carry out the identity checks the new law required. Transport companies face fines if travelers lack valid photo ID.

To implement these new border controls, the Swedish government has secured a non-permanent exemption from the Schengen agreement, or open borders treaty, that all member states are party to. The current legislation is valid for three years, The Guardian reports.

In 2015, Sweden, which has a population of around 10 million, received more than 150,000 asylum applications—making it one of the more popular European countries for refugees to settle in. Last year, Sweden had presented itself as a safe haven for refugees. This change implies its asylum system can no longer cope with the influx. When the Swedish deputy prime minister announced the change in refugee policy, he began to cry, according to The Guardian.