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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark should not be brought back

Sweden's government on Tuesday announced plans to bring back ID checks on Sweden's borders. Niels Paarup-Petersen, a Malmö MP, has launched a campaign to stop them.

OPINION: ID-checks between Sweden and Denmark should not be brought back
Niels Paarup-Petersen is an MP representing Malmö for the Centre Party. He was born and grew up in Denmark and has worked for the Öresund Bridge Consortium.

Bringing in ID-checks is illegal, ineffective, and devastating for the labour market in the Öresund region. That the government, despite all this, is pushing ahead with them anyway is almost impossible to understand. 

Once again, the government’s first response to a crisis is to bring back the ID-checks that tear our region in two.

Once again, they’re doing this without giving either the regional government or those operating the transport services a chance to give their input.

Once again, the idea is that Skåne and the Öresund Region should pay the price for solving Sweden’s challenges.

Once again, commuters will have to wait for half an hour at Kastrup. Once again the transport system in Skåne will be wrecked. 

READ ALSO: Sweden to bring back border controls to control Ukraine arrivals

It’s bloody awful, to be frank.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it is illegal to put the responsibility on transport operators across a Schengen border. The Office of the Chancellor of Justice has come to the same conclusions.

Ukrainians have the right to enter the country, which means that they will not be stopped by the ID controls. If you want to have a better understanding of who is crossing the border, there are still ‘temporary’ border controls in place after six years.

Making the transport operator responsible for ID controls work when applied to ferries and flights, where there is only one place where you can get on or off. When you have continuous traffic, such as with trains or cars, it has a devastating effect on the traffic and on all of the people using them.  

ID checks are completely illegal, unnecessary, and irrational.

Region Skåne, the municipalities in Skåne, and all of my colleagues from Skåne in the national parliament must now all put their feet down. 

ID checks on the Öresund Bridge should not be brought back! 

Niels Paarup-Petersen is an MP representing Malmö for the Centre Party. He was born and grew up in Denmark and has worked for the Öresund Bridge Consortium.

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: Racism doesn’t get much more obvious than Sweden’s refugee bias

When you look at Sweden's reception of Ukrainian refugees, it's clear that what was good enough for poor Muslims from Syria, is not considered good enough for white Christians from Ukraine, notes Stockholm University Professor Christian Christensen.

OPINION: Racism doesn't get much more obvious than Sweden's refugee bias

As thousands of Ukrainian refugees began to arrive in Sweden following the invasion by Russia, the headline of a recent opinion piece by the leader of Sweden’s far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrat party spoke volumes: ‘There is a Difference Between Refugees and “Refugees”’

For Åkesson and his nationalist supporters, Ukrainian refugees are “real” refugees. They are from ”a Christian country with a culture that is more closely related” to that of Sweden, while refugees who escaped Syria and Afghanistan were framed as being made up of millions of backward, poorly-educated “professional migrants” (his term) devoid of European values and sensibilities.

With this backdrop, recent comments posted on Twitter by a municipal council member in Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, provided a disturbing insight into how politicians, not only the far-right but on all sides of the political spectrum, use different sets of standards when considering Ukrainian and Syrian refugees. And how the vision of refugees held by the Swedish far-right has bled into the Swedish political mainstream.

On May 5, Daniel Bernmar, the group leader for the opposition Left Party in the Gothenburg municipal council, sent a series of tweets in which he detailed how fellow council members expressed dismay over the poor services and paltry benefits available to refugees arriving from Ukraine. While on the surface an egalitarian position, the irony, Bernmar pointed out, was that the levels of financial support and services about which they were complaining were set by the very same group of politicians…when the arriving refugees were predominantly Syrian.

In other words, what the local politicians considered to be acceptable support for Syrians was now considered unacceptable support for Ukrainians.

Bernmar detailed a number of the specific concerns expressed by his colleagues.

Members of anti-immigration Sweden Democrats complained that the small amount of spending money given to Ukrainian refugees meant that they could not even afford to take local buses. Why, they asked, had the policy of allowing refugees to ride for free been scrapped? Others asked how without access to public transport Ukrainian refugees could be expected to take their children to school or look for work? And, in perhaps the most Swedish of issues, municipal councilors expressed concern that Ukrainian parents could not send children under the age of three to state-subsidized daycare.

Bernmar noted that he had “never before heard these parties or people address the unacceptable social or economic situation for refugees.” He then addressed the elephant in the room. The dismay expressed by colleagues over conditions facing refugees – conditions the same politicians approved when refugees were Syrian – was unsurprising, he wrote, given that they, “did not previously apply to white, Christian Europeans.”

These revelations should come as no surprise. While seemingly at odds with Sweden’s reputation for openness and egalitarianism, the fact is that political parties at both ends of the Swedish political spectrum have adopted increasingly aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. Yet, when structural discrimination is presented in such a transparent fashion, it is still jarring.

At the most fundamental level, the case demonstrates how perceptions of the value of human life and human dignity are shaped by ethnicity, religion, and nationality. What was good enough for poor Muslims from Syria just isn’t good enough for white, European Christians. Racism and ethnocentrism don’t come much clearer than that.

But this revelation cuts even deeper and wider. And it applies to nations beyond Sweden’s borders, where immigrants and refugees struggle to construct new futures. What is evident from the comments made by the local politicians in Gothenburg is that they are fully aware of the impact of their policies on the everyday lives of refugees, how the ability to participate in the workforce, for example, is dependent upon basics such as transportation and childcare. That “integration” isn’t just a question of some mythological will, but of available material resources.

To remember that with Ukrainians, but forget it with Syrians, is cynicism of the highest order. It is to amplify the smear that there is a difference between refugees and “refugees.”

Listen to a discussion on Sweden and immigration on Sweden in Focus, The Local’s podcast. 

Click HERE to listen to Sweden in Focus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

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