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Sweden set to keep ID checks over summer

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Sweden set to keep ID checks over summer
ID checks at Copenhagen airport's Kastrup train station. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
14:26 CEST+02:00
Swedish politicians have proposed changing the law to avoid a two-week gap to the ID checks on public transport into Sweden this summer, which were introduced to stem a rising flow of asylum seekers.

Sweden introduced the ID checks on all buses, trains and ferries crossing the border into Sweden on January 4th to cut the record number of refugees it took in last year.

As The Local reported earlier this year, they apply for six months, but under current legislation, when they lapse on July 4th, a ruling to reinstate them can only come a fortnight later, creating a two-week window.

But after migration officials voiced concerns that the grace period could create a fresh wave of refugees trying to make it to Sweden, a parliamentary committee has now proposed to plug the gap.

"Two weeks without ID checks could open a flow that we do not want, because we want to have control over who comes," centre-right politician Beatrice Ask, who heads the justice committee and represents the biggest opposition party, the Moderates, told the TT newswire on Thursday.

Officials have also pointed out that a fortnight without controls could provide a window of opportunity for human traffickers. Swedish police have cracked down on 36 cases of suspected people smuggling on the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark since the turn of the year. 

The ruling centre-left Social Democrat-led coalition welcomed the justice committee's move, which was backed by all parties in parliament apart from the Centre Party and the Left Party.

"It is positive that parliament is taking this initiative. It means that those concerns there have been around what a gap to the ID checks could mean, can now be managed in a better way," Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson told TT.

If the proposal to change the legislation goes through parliament before it breaks for summer recess, which is likely, the ID checks will continue uninterrupted. They will also be extended for four months at a time rather than six.

Meanwhile, the government is set to launch an inquiry into how the controls have been executed and their impact. They remain unpopular with many commuters in the region, especially train travellers who have seen their journey times increase by around 40 minutes as a result.

They run parallel to police checks on the Swedish border, which are currently set to continue until at least May 8th.

The number of people seeking asylum in Sweden has dropped dramatically since the controls were introduced, with an average of far fewer than 1,000 a week showing up in the Nordic country, compared to almost 10,000 during the autumn. 

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