Refugee crisis

Calls for stricter asylum rules after Sweden move

Calls for stricter asylum rules after Sweden move
Stefan Löfven visiting border police in Malmö on Wednesday. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT
Sweden's decision to tighten asylum rules and border checks sent shockwaves through the rest of Scandinavia on Wednesday. But some predicted the measures will have little effect.

In Denmark, a spokesman for the anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DF) said that the new Swedish restrictions, which include ID checks on public transport into the country and tighter asylum rules, could make Denmark “a magnet for asylum seekers in Europe”.

His comments came after Swedish centre-left Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who visited border police in Malmö on Wednesday, announced a series of strict new changes that will see the Nordic country only offer temporary residence permits to those refugees it is obligated to help according to international conventions.

READ ALSO: Sweden split over tightened asylum rules

Police officer in the southern region, Leif Fransson, told the TT newswire that he predicted Sweden's decision to step up controls would have knock-on effects in the Nordics.

“I don't think that Denmark will be far behind on introducing border controls. Otherwise they will be stuck with all the people and they clearly don't want that. It is then in their interest to keep track of all those entering the country from Germany,” said Fransson.

However, Danish Minister for Integration Inger Støjberg said that it was too early to form any conclusions on the effectiveness of Swedish border controls, despite having previously stated that this would mean “we will be forced to register people arriving here [in Denmark]”.

Refugees arriving in Malmö earlier in November. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's move meanwhile prompted its western neighbour, Norway, to immediately announce it would step up its border controls on land as well as ferries from Sweden, Denmark and Germany, starting Thursday.

“What Sweden is now threatening will quickly have repercussions for Norway and therefore I have asked the justice minister to begin initiatives,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told broadcaster NRK. 

In Sweden, experts suggested the new rules, which were putting Sweden on par with the rest of Europe, would have little effect. Migration researcher Joakim Ruist told the TT newswire he believed Sweden would close its border completely in the future.

“Even if you reduce residence permits by 20 percent, we're still talking about historically high figures. (…) I don't think the government itself believes it's going to have any great effect on the refugee influx. I think they're taking small steps now so that we, as voters, will get used to [the idea] and eventually they will close the border completely,” he said.

According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the number of refugees arriving dropped by 30 percent after the country reinstated border controls in southern parts of the country in mid-November.

In October it doubled its refugee forecast for 2015, with up to 190,000 new arrivals expected on Swedish soil over the whole of 2015.