As a result of the migrant crisis and the dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Sweden in the autumn of 2015, Sweden introduced internal border checks on 12 November 2015, and on 4 January 2016, ID checks were introduced for all train, bus, or boat passengers traveling from Denmark to Sweden. 2 November the ID check extended until February 2017.
There have been fewer asylum seekers since the border and ID controls were introduced. At the same time, the controls have also made regional travel between Denmark and Sweden difficult; this is particularly true for train travel.
Longer travel times, fewer departures – resulting in a 45 per cent decrease in the number of seats during rush hour – and more crowded trains over the Øresund Bridge. This has become the everyday reality for those who take the train between Zealand in Denmark and Scania in Sweden after nearly ten months of ID checks at Copenhagen’s Airport and border controls at Hyllie on the outskirts of Malmö – the first train station on the Swedish side.
Kastrup and Hyllie have gone from commuter stations to checkpoints.
The effects of the ID and border checks are also tangible as fewer are taking the train and the amount of car travel over the Øresund Bridge is rising; the Danish-Swedish cross-border job market is diminishing; and accessibility has decreased to Copenhagen Airport, which is not only Denmark’s largest airport, but also the most important international airport for residents of southern Sweden, with direct train connections from many Swedish cities.
Every day 95 900 people cross the Øresund Strait, both directions included. 42 900 of them travel by car and 32 100 by train across the Øresund Bridge.
WHEN AND WHY ID AND BORDER CHECKS WERE INTRODUCED:
Last autumn brought the global migrant crisis closer to the residents of Greater Copenhagen/the Øresund Region. The unstable conditions in the Middle East and parts of Africa and the war raging in Syria have driven millions to flee; human beings looking for a place to live, for a safe environment and good prospects for the future for themselves and their families. At Malmö Central Station, volunteers distributed food and helped those fleeing war get their bearings. When the number of migrants coming to Sweden increased dramatically, the Swedish government decided to introduce temporary border and ID checks on two occasions.
12 November 2015. Sweden introduces an internal border control (‘internal’ indicating that it is separate from the outer, EU boundary). At the Øresund Strait, travellers are checked when coming from Denmark to Sweden with ferries from Helsingør to Helsingborg, as well as those traveling by car, bus and train over the Øresund Bridge to Sweden. Controls on car and bus travellers are performed at the toll station in Lernacken, and train passengers are checked at the train station Hyllie in Malmö.
4 January 2016. Following a decision made by the Swedish government, a new regulation enters into force. It makes transport companies responsible for ID checks being done on all train, bus or ferry passengers from Denmark to Sweden; the transport companies are responsible for checking identities while still on Danish soil, so as to only take passengers with a valid passport or ID card to Sweden. Train passengers are required to change trains at the train station at Copenhagen Airport in order to go through the identity checkpoint. On the same day, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced that Denmark would introduce temporary border checks for those travelling from Germany to Denmark. The Danish border check means that in addition to the Øresund Region, the border regions at the Fehmarn Belt and between Schleswig-Holstein and Southern Jutland are also affected.
Extended until February 2017. At first, the checks were extended for short increments of time. But in May, Denmark decided to extend the checks at the German border until 12 November 2016. Sweden decided to extend border checks until 11 November, and ID checks for those travelling from Denmark to Sweden have been extended until February 2017.
ABOUT ID AND BORDER CHECKS IN THE ØRESUND REGION:
Since 12 November 2015, the Swedish Police have been performing temporary border checks at ferry ports, the Øresund Bridge toll station and at the train station in Hyllie.
Beginning at midnight on 4 January 2016, Sweden introduced a new ‘carrier’s responsibility’ for any company that transports people by bus, train or ferry from Denmark to Sweden. The transport company is responsible for performing identity checks, meaning that the company must ensure that all passengers travelling who will enter Sweden have a valid passport or a driver’s license/identity card that fulfils the Swedish police’s requirements. If a person without a valid passport/ID card travels by bus/train/boat to Sweden, the transport company can be fined 50 000 Swedish crowns per person.
Due to the carrier’s responsibility, DSB and Skånetrafiken (Danish and southern Swedish railway companies, respectively) have introduced ID checks at the train station Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup, on anyone travelling with the Øresund Train to Sweden; and HH Ferries has introduced ID checks of all passengers travelling to Helsingborg at the ferry port in Helsingør. The ferries between Bornholm and Ystad, as well as bus operators with cross-border traffic, have also introduced ID checks.
The ID and border checks primarily affect travellers over the Øresund, with longer journey times, fewer train departures and more crowded trains. Reports show that effects on ferry, bus and car traffic are minimal.
Journeys with the Øresund Train from Denmark to Sweden, are affected in three locations:
- At Copenhagen’s Airport, Kastrup. Passengers travelling from Denmark to Sweden must exit their train, cross through the airport arrivals area and descend to the train platform, where they go through an ID check and take the next train to Sweden. The train to Sweden departs nine minutes after the train from Copenhagen arrives; missing the first train prolongs the stopover at the airport’s train station to 29 minutes. Before the checks were introduced, train travellers could travel directly from central Copenhagen to Malmö without changing trains and with no ID or border checks.
- At the first Swedish station, Hyllie, police or immigration officers get on the train to perform border controls, entailing that the train is at the platform for an average of 10 minutes. On full trains during rush hour, the checks can take up to15 minutes.
- At Malmö Central Station, the Øresund Train waits up to 12-13 minutes for the next scheduled departure time to prevent any delays from spreading throughout the Swedish railway system. If the train departed late from Hyllie, the waiting time at Malmö C is shorter. The total delay, from the arrival in Hyllie and the departure from Malmö C, is never longer than 21 minutes, corresponding to the time until the next scheduled departure.
Between when the ID checks were introduced in January and 2 October, there have been 135 occasions on which migrants have attempted to walk over the Øresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden. The Øresund Bridge Consortium set up infrared cameras to prevent people from entering the tunnel, where there is a very great risk of accidents.
Police have also reported that people have been regularly discovered hiding under lorries, particularly at the crossing between Helsingør and Helsingborg.
Train traffic is affected most. People travelling over the Øresund Strait by car over the Øresund Bridge or by ferry from Helsingør to Helsingborg generally experience only minimal delays resulting from the ID and border checks. The drastic increases in travel time, crowded trains and delays are problems on the train traffic crossing the Øresund Bridge, where capacities were already limited by for example the size of the train station at Copenhagen’s Airport in Kastrup, which only has two tracks for passenger trains, compared to four tracks in Hyllie. The number of train travellers crossing the Øresund Bridge with southern Sweden’s public transport company Skånetrafiken dropped twelve per cent between January and August 2016 compared to the same period a year prior. Read more in the analysis by Øresundsinstituttet (in Swedish).
Longer train journey times. Travel times with the Øresundståg trains have increased by half an hour on average, according to Skånetrafiken. The journey with the Øresundståg between Copenhagen Central Station and Malmö Central Station has increased from 35 minutes to 52 minutes or 72 minutes, depending on whether one catches the next train after changing and going through the ID checkpoint at Copenhagen Airport. Traffic with the Øresundståg from Sweden to Denmark is essentially unchanged, with the exception that the frequency of trains in rush hour traffic has halved, with trains departing every twenty minutes rather than every ten minutes, and trains with delays no longer stop at Copenhagen Airport. Due to lacking train track capacity at Copenhagen Airport, trains with 6-10 minutes delay no longer stop but instead continue to the next station, Tårnby, where passengers must exit and take another train back to the airport.
More and more commuters are choosing their cars. The number of train commuters has dropped throughout the year, but most of all in August and September, when the decrease was at eight respective eleven per cent according to data from Skånetrafiken. Previously, the increase in car traffic over the Øresund Bridge had remained at approximately the same level as during 2015. However, it has increased dramatically in recent months. In September alone, car traffic increased by eight per cent – the greatest car traffic increase in any September since 2007. The Øresund Bridge Consortium estimates that at least half of the increase in car traffic is due to the ID and border checks.
Many commuters between Sweden and Denmark are considering giving up. A survey of Øresund commuters undertaken by Øresundsinstituttet in August-September shows that 39 per cent of the nearly 400 interviewed are considering seeking employment in their country of residence, while 26 per cent are considering moving to their country of employment. Another 16 per cent are seeking employment and looking for a new home, while 18 per cent do not plan on stopping commuting. The survey was undertaken for the County Administrative Board in Skåne’s report Utvärdering av effekter av tillämpningen av förordning om vissa identitetskontroller (’Evaluation of the Effects of the Adoption of the Regulation of Certain Identity Checks’) and was submitted to the Swedish government in the end of September, and Øresundsinstituttet was responsible for a significant portion of the fact analysis. A previous study of train commuters over the Øresund showed that 64 per cent experienced an increase in stress since the introduction of ID and border checks, and 70 per cent were strongly affected by not knowing when they would arrive. The study was undertaken by a researcher from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, with responses from 900 train commuters, and the report (in Swedish) was published by Øresundsinstituttet in June.
The decision about continuing the controls is nearing. If they are not extended, the ID checks/carrier responsibility will be discontinued after 4 November and the border checks after 11 November. This autumn, the government received basis for the decision on a possible extension of the ID checks in the form of reports from a variety of Swedish authorities on the effects of the checks. This decision is made entirely by the Swedish government, whilst the decision to extend border checks depends in part on special permission from the EU Commission, which has been granted, but only for three months.
The Swedish Minister of Home Affairs Anders Ygeman (S) has stated that he would rather see better border controls will fewer repercussions for commuters before a possible extension.
Checks on one track. In the late summer and autumn, the Danish railway management company Banedanmark and Copenhagen Airport tested ID checks for train passengers that did not involve changing train platforms. This would mean that trains would both arrive at and depart from the same track at the train station Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup. The new system would mean the reintroduction of train departures every ten minutes during rush hour. According to the Swedish railway management company Skånetrafiken, the changes would be able to take effect earliest at the end of December.
Swedish-Danish talks about changes in the ID and border checks. Possible changes in the ID and border checks that would facilitate train travel between Denmark and Sweden are being discussed by Denmark’s Minister of Justice Søren Pind (Venstre) and Sweden’s Minister of Home Affairs Anders Ygeman (Socialdemokraterna). One solution, promoted by commuters as well as politicians, would be to move the internal Swedish border control from Hyllie. Instead it would be performed onboard the trains crossing the bridge from Denmark to Sweden, after the train had passed the border.
Reimbursement to Skånetrafiken. The government is planning to reimburse the operator of public transport in Southern Sweden, Skånetrafiken, for the direct costs incurred by the ID checks, which have been calculated at 42.4 million Swedish crowns for 2016. In a letter to the Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi (S), Region Skåne’s representatives expressed that the government should allot more resources to border regions and municipalities. The total cost for Skånetrafiken, including the cost for twelve per cent less train travellers crossing the Øresund Bridge – instead of the earlier estimated increase of five per cent – has been calculated at 67.1 million Swedish crowns for 2016. Also, Skånetrafiken is only paying half of the cost incurred by the ID checks for the train traffic across the Øresund Bridge. The other part is paid by the Danish train operator DSB, which will not be reimbursed by the Swedish government. Neither will the bus and ferry companies operating from Denmark to Sweden.
Application for damages. In October, 565 Danish and Swedish Øresund commuters submitted a claim for damages to the Chancellor of Justice, with the assistance of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Southern Sweden and the legal office Vinge. According to the Chamber of Commerce, commuters are demanding 30 000 Swedish crowns each as compensation for general damages and in certain cases even special damages.
Societal costs and a diminishing job market. The latest analysis of the socioeconomic effects of the ID and border checks and what they have cost society were presented by Øresundsinstituttet in June. It shows that 332 000 fewer job opportunities in Zealand are accessible within a one-hour commute from Malmö Central, compared to when the ID and border checks were introduced. Calculations by Øresundsinstituttet show that together, those travelling over the bridge spend 6 600 extra hours on the train daily since the introduction of the ID and border checks. The extra time for train travellers in the first half year since the controls is calculated at 152 million crowns, according to Swedish socioeconomic models.
95 900 people travel over the Øresund on an average day (one-way), of whom:
75 000 over the Øresund Bridge
20 900 with the ferry Helsingborg-Helsingør
19 300 vehicles drive over the Øresund Bridge on an average day
(figures for one-way trips over the Øresund Bridge)
17 400 private cars
1 230 lorries/trucks
33 per cent of private cars are car commuters (figures from 2014)
In daily travel across the Øresund Bridge, trips are made:
(for single-direction travel across the Øresund Bridge)
42 900 by car
32 100 by train (this means that approx. 16 000 people travel daily from Denmark to Sweden on an average day, and the same number travel from Sweden to Denmark)
15 100 people commute over the Øresund daily (average for the entire year 2015) , of whom between 8 000 and 9000 people commute by car over the Øresund Bridge.
93 per cent commute from Scania to Zealand
Source: Øresund Bridge Consortium, Örestat and calculations by Øresundsinstituttet