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DFAT advisories flow as borders tighten up in Europe

January 8, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has advised Australian visitors to northern Europe that border controls have been reintroduced in Denmark and Sweden. It’s the latest example of a trend happening throughout Europe.

“You should ensure that you carry your passport when entering and exiting Denmark,” DFAT advises.

The same situation applies to Sweden. “Identification checks apply at the point of departure for all passengers on trains, buses and ferries from Denmark to Sweden,” DFAT states.

The border between Denmark and Sweden has been hardly noticeable for some years. Times are changing as an army of migrants and asylum seekers, fleeing wars in the Middle East or poverty and instability elsewhere, marches across Europe. Many head for Germany or Sweden; others cluster around Channel ports in France trying to enter Britain.

Swedish police report a sharp drop in asylum-seekers since new ID checks were introduced for travellers entering the country by train from Denmark.

Sweden and Denmark are the latest countries in Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel area to impose controls. Demark is also concerned about people heading across the border from Germany. In a letter to the European Commission, Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s integration minister, said the controls would focus initially on the border with Germany but could extend to all of Denmark’s borders.

She said border control measures taken by Sweden meant Denmark was “faced with a serious risk to public order and internal security because a very large number of illegal immigrants may be stranded in the Copenhagen area”, the BBC reported. Thus, Denmark has to impose it own controls.

Some 60% of migrants entering Europe have no papers. Norway, which is not an EU member but belongs to the Schengen area, said refugees coming from other Schengen countries without visas would be turned back.

Earlier this week, DFAT advised Australians about another European country, Belgium: “There are increased security checks at land borders, international airports and train stations; you should carry your passport when entering Belgium (entry and exit).”

Meanwhile, reports from Italy yesterday said that country was ready to tighten security along its border with Slovenia to stem an increased influx of refugees from the northeast.

Many politicians in Europe are now predicting that the days of the Schengen agreement, which permits free travel in Europe, are numbered. They say unrestricted movement across borders is not possible in a Europe which cannot control its external frontiers.

More tension erupted a week ago, with reports from German police that about 100 women had reported being robbed, threatened or sexually molested at New Year celebrations in the city of Cologne, mainly by Arab and North African men. Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers called it “a completely new dimension of crime”.

Dozens of reports of sexual assault and robberies centred on the city’s main train station, where a crowd of roughly 1000 men had congregated near Cologne Cathedral, police told Spiegel online. At least one woman was raped and many were groped, including a volunteer policewoman, the BBC reported.

One man described how his partner and 15-year-old daughter were surrounded by an enormous crowd outside the station who proceeded to grope them while he was unable to help. A policeman told the city’s Express news website that he had detained eight suspects. “They were all asylum seekers, carrying copies of their residence certificates,” he said.

“It can’t go on like this,” Steffan Bilger, a politician who belongs to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, tweeted. “Urgently needed: reduction of influx, secure borders, intensifying of deportations and meaningful justice. #Cologne.”

After a million migrants crossed the Mediterranean into Europe last year, and after several Islamist terror attacks, many European countries feel they have had about enough. The sentiments do not sit well with the concept of an open Europe in which tourists can freely travel with minimum bureaucratic hassle.

Written by Peter Needham

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