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Sweden extends border controls until spring 2017

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Sweden extends border controls until spring 2017
An ID check at a train on the Malmö side of the Öresund Bridge. Photo: Daniel Kihlström/TT
16:48 CET+01:00
Sweden will extend border controls and ID checks in the south of the country by a further three months, the country's government has confirmed.

The border controls at ports in the south of Sweden and on the Swedish side of the Öresund Bridge to Denmark were brought in during the autumn of 2015, a year where Sweden received a record 163,000 asylum applications. ID checks on trains crossing the Öresund Bridge were introduced soon after.

The measures in the passport-free Schengen zone are only supposed to be temporary and originally designed to last six months, but they were extended by a further half a year in May 2016, then three months more the following November.

The European Commission has given the five countries in the Schengen area with the measures in place permission to extend them by a further three months still until May 2017, which Sweden has now confirmed it will do.

"It's still an unclear situation, so we will extend them," Stefan Löfven explained on Wednesday afternoon.

"In part it’s because we have many unregistered people left in Germany, and in part because, looking at the Mediterranean route, there is an increase in asylum seekers, so we don't really know where that's going," he added.

The controls are unpopular among commuters in the south of Sweden and in the Copenhagen region in Denmark, who have complained that they make journeys across the Öresund Bridge more time consuming. PM Löfven expressed his sympathies with those working in the area.

"We're trying all the time to make it easier for them in discussions with transport providers and with Denmark, because we know that this isn't something they want, the need to get on and off the train," he said.

The PM highlighted a recent decision by Danish rail operator DSB which means passengers no longer have to go through the time-consuming process of switching to a different platform at Kastrup train station to have ID checked, before crossing back over to continue their journey, as one example of how the checks have been streamlined.

"The fact that you now no longer need to change platform is one thing that has made it easier," Löfven pointed out. 

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