Sweden introduces tighter border controls

The Swedish government announced Tuesday that it will introduce tighter border controls – further reducing the intake of asylum applicants – to force other EU countries to take significant action on the growing refugee crisis.

Under the usual Swedish immigration policy, all those granted asylum are given permanent residency. With the new measures, however, temporary residence permits will only be given to the minimum number of refugees Sweden is obliged to help under EU and UN conventions. In addition, the country will enforce strict ID checks on all public transportation in and out of Sweden.

These new policies are in response to the fact that Sweden feels it has been taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the migrant crisis facing Europe. Currently, Sweden has the largest proportion of Syrian refugees per population in Europe.

The nordic country has been a top choice for migrants due to its generous asylum policy, well-developed welfare state, and high standard of living – all distinctions that Sweden prides itself on. However, in October, the Swedish Migration Agency declared that it expects to take in up to 190,000 asylum seekers in 2015 – double the number originally predicted in July.

The announcement is an effort to compel other EU countries to take action in the growing refugee crisis.

Back in August, Germany responded to the escalating crisis by temporarily suspending the Dublin Regulations, the EU immigration policy which states that immigrants must register for asylum with the first EU country they enter. However, in early November, Germany stated that it is “returning to orderly procedures” and installed a temporary border control on its border with Austria in response to the overwhelming number of Syrian refugees.

The Dublin Regulation is largely not being followed in the current refugee crisis because a majority of migrants are entering through Greece, which does not have the capacity to handle them. The Swedish Prime Minister highlighted the urgent need for the 28-member bloc to create a permanent system that takes the burden off of border countries such as Greece and Macedonia and the “popular” countries such as Sweden and Germany to evenly share the burden of refugees and asylum seekers.

“The situation is untenable,” Prime Minister Lofven told reporters. “It is clear that migration politics in the EU need to be completely reviewed.”

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