“Criminal networks have been given the present of the century by the EU as have you here in this chamber through the decisions that have been taken here over the last two decades,” said Kent Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats during the debate.
According to Ekeroth the lack of border controls within the EU only benefits criminals.
He also claimed that the border police in Malmö in the south of Sweden have given up in the fight against refugee smugglers, saying that illegal immigrants should be seen as criminals.
He demanded that Swedish border controls should carry out more random testing against people they suspect “don’t belong here”.
But justice minister Beatrice Ask retorted that to bring back border controls between European countries would prove an impediment for all the Swedes that are set to head out towards European destinations in the next few weeks.
“We should safeguard freedom in Europe, but also fight crime. We must be able to handle both,” she said.
The backdrop to the debate, which had been called by the Sweden Democrats, is the ongoing discussion in the EU to simplify the establishment of border controls between EU countries.
The EU commission is looking into the current rules following demands last month by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for restrictions to the free movement that the Schengen agreement entails.
Sarkozy and Berlusconi were united in their wish to make it easier to establish temporary border controls between member states following the heavy influx of African refugees to EU member states since the beginning of the year.
Temporary border controls can currently only be established between member states in the case of a threat to the law and order of a society, such as in the case of a major influx of hooligans before a big football game.
Ask isn’t against the EU’s review of the current legislation.
“But every member state within the EU is obligated to take care of people seeking refuge within its borders,” Ask said.
MP Marie Granlund of the Social Democrats said that free movement is one of the greatest successes of the European project. She fears that right-wing extremists in France and Italy are behind the wish to limit movement between countries.
“To turn the clock back to a time when Europe was characterised by rigid national borders is not the right way forward,” said Granlund.
“We, the Social Democrats, will never give in to letting right-wing extremist powers dictate how free movement should look in Europe.”
During the spring Denmark announced plans to establish permanent customs controls on their borders to Germany and Sweden to combat illegal drug-and-weapons trade between the countries, in a concession to the right-wing Danish People’s Party.