'We are 10-15 years behind': Swedish PM visits Danish refugee deportation agency

TT/The Local
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'We are 10-15 years behind': Swedish PM visits Danish refugee deportation agency
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson holds a joint press conference with his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen after a visit to the Danish Return Agency. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson praised Denmark for pioneering stricter immigration policies on Tuesday as he visited the agency responsible for sending refugees back to their home countries.


Kristersson met his Danish counterpart, Mette Frederiksen, during a visit to Hjemrejsestyrelsen, the Danish Return Agency, which is responsible for sending refugees back to their home countries if Denmark withdraws their asylum status or if they choose to leave.

“What we are doing now is what Denmark began doing 10-15 years ago. It’s necessary, it’s possible, but it will take time,” Kristersson said at a press conference held after the visit at Marienborg, a castle north of Copenhagen.

Frederiksen, meanwhile, said she was “pleased that Denmark, after 20 years of strict immigration policies, can inspire other [countries]”. 

READ ALSO: What's the current status of Sweden's planned migration reforms? 

Sweden has long been known to have a more accommodating stance on refugees and asylum than Denmark, but Stockholm has hardened its policies considerably since a right-wing government came to power last year with the backing of the nationalist party Sweden Democrats.

The visit came a week after the far-right Sweden Democrats, whose support is crucial for Kristersson's majority, threatened to topple his government if it did not work to block the EU Migration Pact agreed by the EU parliament. 

At the press conference Kristersson said that the EU Parliament did not have the final decision. 

"That's the way it's always been. Now the EU parliament has agreed on what they think on a number of things the EU Council will decide on. Sweden is not going to contribute towards a European policy which will increase immigration to our part of Europe." 


Kristersson's visit to the Return Agency is highly symbolic, given that in the Tidö Agreement the three parties in his government signed with the Sweden Democrats, there are plans to look into withdrawing residency from asylum seekers, or those with "alternative protection", "if the original grounds for asylum no longer apply, for instance if a conflict has ended".

The agreement also calls for an inquiry to be set up which will look into whether asylum seekers could be held in transit centres while their asylum applications are being handled, and analyse whether such centres are possible under European Convention on Human Rights or the Swedish Constitution.

The inquiry will consider where such transit centres could be established and whose control they would need to be under, a question that is relevant in Denmark, where the government is working to push for an EU agreement which would allow such asylum processing centres to be established outside of the EU. 


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