Ferry firm argues new ID checks in Sweden

The Danish company which operates the car ferries between Sweden and Denmark has reported the Swedish government to the European Commission for forcing it to carry out ID checks on passengers.

Ferry firm argues new ID checks in Sweden
HH Ferries' ship Hamlet arrives at Helsingborg. Photo: HH Ferries
HH Ferries Group claims that the cost of the controls, which it estimates at 100,000 Danish kroner ($14,000) a day, will not be born by the operator of the Öresund Bridge, its major competitor. 
It is reporting Sweden to the European Commission for violating competition rules, arguing that the Öresund Bridge Consortium, a joint venture partly owned by the Swedish government, was being given preferential treatment. 
“Motorists who use the Öresund Bridge will be checked for the first time when they arrive in Sweden, and that will be done by the Swedish authorities,” Henrik Rørbæk, the company’s chief executive, told Sweden’s TT newswire.
HH Ferries announced its move a day after the Danish train company DSB threatened to levy a supplementary charge on passengers travelling to Sweden to cover the costs of the ID checks, which come into force on January 4th. 
Sweden announced in November that it would require transport companies operating trains and ferries to the Nordic country from Denmark to carry out ID checks on all customers crossing into Sweden, as part of efforts to limit the number of refugees heading north.
Sweden's infrastructure minister Anna Johansson rejected the claim that Sweden was favouring its own bridge company .
“We do not share HH ferries' analysis that the act will give rise to unfair competition,” she said in an email to The Local. “If and when HH Ferries' complaint reaches the European Commission it is up to them to examine it.” 
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has been highly critical of the Swedish plan, calling it “a very unfortunate situation” which would endanger the billions spent on building infrastructure and carrying out marketing to create a connected cross-border Oresund Region linking Malmö and Copenhagen. 
According to Denmark’s TV2 broadcaster, HH Ferries has hired a private security company to carry out the ID checks. 
HH Ferries operates the ferry link between Helsingør and Helsingborg, the shortest distance across the Oresund, the narrow sound separating Sweden and Denmark. 
It is also reporting the Swedish government to the commission for infringing the Schengen border agreement. 
The company is owned by First State Investments, an Australian infrastructure fund. 


Swedish police request more money for border control

Border control in Sweden has been the subject of strong criticism, and a law enforcement assessment says more funding is required.

Swedish police request more money for border control
File photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police are requesting an additional 600 million kronor from the government to manage border checks.

The border controls were broadly criticized in last year's Schengen report on the functioning of the common border area. Insufficient staff, organisation and competence were all mentioned in the report.

Earlier this year, news agency TT reported that border staff with police in the Stockholm region had alerted the Ministry of Justice as to the seriousness of the situation.

In order to meet the demands set in the Schengen report, workforce at border crossing points must be expanded, the Swedish Police Authority (Polismyndigheten) writes in its annual budget assessment, presented to the government.

Investment in education, equipment and facilities is also requested, while IT systems must be improved, the authority said as it sought an additional 600 million kronor over three years for border controls.

When the additional costs will arise or when the various improvements will be undertaken is currently unclear, but investment of 100 million kronor is required for 2020, followed by 200 million kronor in 2021 and 300 million kronor in 2022, according to the police preliminary assessment.

In order to meet an overall target of an extra 10,000 police employees by 2024, the authority has asked for financial backing corresponding to that received in the period up to and including 2021. That amounts to an additional 1.3 billion kronor.

“The police has just submitted its budget request. We will, of course, analyse it. It is currently too early to comment on how the government’s budget will look. We will return to that,” Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg told TT.

“However, the government has been clear – the police must have 10,000 more employees by 2024, and this was also stated in the January agreement [providing for the new government, ed.],” Damberg added.

READ ALSO: Schengen report criticizes Swedish border checks as not fit for purpose