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Customs row 'a misunderstanding': Danish minister

AFP/The Local · 18 Jun 2011, 09:40

Published: 18 Jun 2011 09:40 GMT+02:00

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"Much of the criticism is based on a misunderstanding of what the agreement is all about," Espersen told reporters in Stockholm after a meeting with her Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt.

"It is important to stress that this deal is about customs control of transport of goods like weapons and drugs, and that the deal is not about controlling people's identities or passports or an old-fashioned border control," she insisted.

Espersen's trip to Sweden was the second stop after Germany on a fence-mending mission to allay European concerns that Denmark's move to introduce permanent customs controls at its borders would weaken its commitment to the passport-free Schengen zone.

"The Danish government is intent on carrying out this agreement in line with the Schengen rules and in line with the EU treaty," she said.

Espersen explained that the plan hammered out by Denmark's centre-right government under pressure from its far-right ally was due to "concern among the Danish population over cross-border crime ... not least drugs and weapons."

Bildt meanwhile refused to comment on whether he believed the plan, which still needs to pass a vote in the Danish parliament, was in line with Schengen.

"That is something the European Commission needs to determine... This is not a bilateral issue between Denmark and Sweden," he told the news conference.

Bildt stressed that "it is exceedingly important that when we sign treaties and enter into agreements we adhere to them," adding that after his talk with Espersen he was "happy to note that is (also) the Danish position."

He stressed though that Sweden wanted to ensure that movement was not constricted for the tens of thousands of commuters who each day cross between

southern Sweden and Copenhagen.

"We want to build bridges, not walls," he said, adding he was glad that "we have a bridge between Denmark and Sweden."

Story continues below…

In her bid to cool tensions over the plan, Espersen is also set to meet her

Polish counterpart Radoslav Sikorski Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of

EU foreign ministers.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:13 June 18, 2011 by byke
It's all very convinent to claim such, and then go and specifically outlaw certain things that just happen to be black and considered not in line with Danish culture.

Yes I am talking about Marmite.
10:16 June 18, 2011 by Rick Methven
Yet more weasel wording from Denmark.

"Yes we support the Schengen agreement for the free passage of people and goods within the area, but we will stop and inspect goods and people passing into Denmark"

Just like the Marmite case.

"Marmite is not banned in Denmark, its just illegal to sell it"

A ban by any other name
11:05 June 18, 2011 by infidel2012
You never know what's coming across those borders.

Good idea to check those passports too, just in case...
11:36 June 18, 2011 by calebian22
Amazing! Denmark wishes to maintain it's national integrity and is slammed for it. Member states like Greece which should implement controls like Denmark get financial bailouts. Open borders inside the EU is great if the border countries keep out the hordes. Blindly accepting the Schengen agreement is like ignoring the water around your ankles pouring downstream from another section of the dam. Just because the dam looks fine directly in front of you, doesn't mean the dam is intact. Good for Denmark!
11:51 June 18, 2011 by canuk
I think this is an excellent idea and long overdue. pass this rule as fast as possible. Sweden should institute the same. That brige connecting sweden to the continent has caused a lot of change, not all of which have been positive...
12:52 June 18, 2011 by Puffin
LOL Byke and Rick - you are both right

..... am sure the customs officers will be looking for illegal Marmite crime ;-)
15:34 June 18, 2011 by StuartM
While the Danish government has adopted this policy for entirely the wrong reasons (ie. to placate the far-right Danish People's Party) I fully support it and think it's only common sense that nations should have control over their own borders. If full passport and customs checks were implemented in Sweden the country could overnight drastically reduce the amount of drugs, weapons, cheap alcohol and counterfeit cigarettes being brought in and cut down on human trafficking, prostitution and other forms of organised crime. Schengen might seem like a nice idea for those wanting to travel easily from one country to another but it clearly doesn't work and has contributed to making Sweden a more dangerous and insecure place in which to live.
17:08 June 18, 2011 by Rick Methven
Long before Sweden or Denmark joined the EU or Schengen was ever heard of, there has been no border control between Sweden, Denmark & Norway. You do not need a passport to travel between theses countries, so what Denmark is now doing is not only to flout EU rules but also to break the Scandinavian free trade agreement.

It seems that the Danish People's Party, calling the shots and is determined to make Denmark a Danish only state. Carrying on this path would lead to Denmark being isolated stuck between Germany to the south and Sweden to the north. If you think of it, there is nothing that Denmark has that anybody else needs. They can keep Carlsberg , its crap anyway, and now My neighbours 5 year old has been to Legoland for his birthday they can close the border.
18:25 June 18, 2011 by Mb 65
There are 100s of boats and cars stolen and house burglaries every year. if they check the borders a lot of this will be stopped. Whats the difference to flying into Sweden you have to pass through passport control' so why not the roads. The sooner we get out of the Eu the better.
18:33 June 18, 2011 by Rick Methven
@Mib 65.

When you fly between any Schengen country or Norway from Sweden there is NO passport control
19:35 June 18, 2011 by swedejane
Either you're going to have a passport, inspection free-zone or you're not. The Danes need to stand up for what they want to do and quit pussyfooting around. This is like if there were inspections going from Arizona into Nevada. Dumb.
20:24 June 18, 2011 by calebian22
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
21:22 June 18, 2011 by 123 services
the danish authority they do not respect their own people. do you think they care about other people .Hitler is back but in another fasion way.
08:10 June 19, 2011 by What?
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:08 June 19, 2011 by Syftfel
Misunderstanding or not, it is clear that the entire topic has exposed the deep divisions between those who support national sovereignty, and those who wish to soil Nordic cohesion with offesive alien cultures through unbridled, uncontrolled open immigration for their own spurious reasons. It is my opinion that all the Nordic countries should exit the Schengen agreement immediately in order to preserve peace, law, order and cultural identity. And swedejane, based on your comment 'Arizona into Nevada', it is obvious that you have not traveled out West, If you had, you would be aware that, especially in the Western states, there are so called 'Agricultural Inspection Stations' on the intra state borders, as well as internal Border Patrol checkpoints, where all travelers have to stop and show credentials. Hence border controls between Euopean countries may not be so "dumb" after all.
17:57 June 19, 2011 by Iraniboy
Does it mean that legal prostituates and drugs cannot pass from Denmark to Sweden anymore?
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