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Germany slams Denmark over border control

The Local · 12 May 2011, 10:54

Published: 12 May 2011 10:54 GMT+02:00

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In response to pressure from a populist right-wing party, the Danish government has announced it would place customs booths at border crossings with Germany and Sweden, a move it says is necessary to tackle cross-border crime such as drug trafficking. The changes are expected to be implemented in the next few weeks.

On Thursday, Denmark dismissed claims the move breached the Schengen agreement, a cornerstone of European co-operation that allows people to move without passport checks between 25 European countries, 22 of which are EU states. It insisted it was not reintroducing passport checks but just customs inspections.

As European interior ministers gathered in Brussels for talks on immigration and border controls, Danish Integration Minister Soren Pind said his government's decision to deploy permanent customs officers was aimed at stopping cross-border crime.

"I see a lot of drama in the European press but I am going to state things like they are," Pind told reporters, insisting that Europe's Schengen open borders agreement permitted such actions.

"I think that when this model is studied carefully, everyone will see that it is, if I may quote Shakespeare, much ado about nothing," he said.

He stressed that Danish authorities were deployed as customs agents, not border police, and that their job will be to scan vehicles for any criminal activities. "This has nothing to do with personal passport controls," he said.

But German politicians have reacted angrily to the unilateral Danish action.

“We see the need for a quick and detailed explanation of this matter,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement.

“Freedom of movement and the Schengen agreement are essential achievements of European unity and must not be put in doubt.”

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and Interior Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger made similar comments, while the centre-left opposition Social Democrats called on the government to take action.

Friedrich told broadcaster ARD on Thursday morning that Schengen member states needed to be able to control their borders in emergency situations.

“But we mean to limit that very strictly,” he said.

Rashly imposed border controls were “today possible only in exceptional cases ... and we have to define the exact criteria in order for these exceptional cases to remain exceptional.”

Justice Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that the reimposition of permanent border controls would remove “an achievement of the European Union.”

Story continues below…

Denmark’s actions showed how fragile the regulations and core values of the EU could be, she said. It was vital therefore to have a debate about the great significance of freedom of movement and open borders.

The SPD’s interior affairs expert Sebastian Edathy said permanent border controls fundamentally breached the Schengen agreement.

“I expect the government to make it clear to our Danish neighbours that the reintroduction of permanent barriers is not acceptable,” he told business daily Handelsblatt.

Better control at the exterior borders of the Schengen zone itself were more important than “random controls between the Schengen member countries,” he said.

DAPD/The Local/AFP/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:27 May 12, 2011 by FredFinger
Good for Denmark, if were danish I'd want increased border control too. There's no doubt that the increasing tensions in africa and the middle east will bring increasing numbers of refugees knocking on europe's door and it would be foolish of Denmark to rely on its southern neighbors to control them.
12:21 May 12, 2011 by Alannah
Driving along a German highway in the summertime, you can't help but notice that every third car has a Danish or Dutch number plate.

The Danes expect to be able to move freely to and throughout Germany and to pay with Danish visa cards without having a fee placed on payments made with a Danish visa card outside of Denmark.


when us foreigners go to Denmark we must now put up with tighter Danish customs and border control AND pay a fee on paying with foreign Visa cards.

If the Danes put tighter controls in place, then the Danes should have to pay/be subject to tighter border controls when they wish to travel in Europe.

They can't have their cake and eat it!
12:44 May 12, 2011 by lwexcel
I am almost positive (again not 100%) that the fees you are speaking about come from the bank and is given because of the way that they are able to impose fees based on the laws in the country in which the account is housed. It really has nothing to do with them being Danish or Swedish (they don't have to pay either) it has to do with the fact that the German government allows fees to be imposed.

Next, good for them Germany (especially northern Germany) rampant with drugs! If they want to prevent this problem from spreading into their country there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
13:22 May 12, 2011 by mike_1983
good for denmark!
13:23 May 12, 2011 by Johnne

Thank you very much for making such a consturctive contribution as you just did in your comment.


Here we go again...you´re not Danish, neither are you German but you don´t want refugees in both countries. I think the politicians know what they´re saying about "border passport control" in Schengen states. And could you leave the refugees from Africa out of this and comment on "custom control" against drug trafficking? I mean, I don´t see where refugees are mentioned in the article? thanks :-D
13:23 May 12, 2011 by catjones
Maybe the Danes could put up a wall around their country. Don't forget to remove your shoes at the border and remove your laptop from its case.
13:26 May 12, 2011 by ovalle3.14
Understandable. I would rather have border controls with Germany than with Romania.
13:31 May 12, 2011 by maxbrando
All of you fools should realize that Schengen has made fools of you. It is a worthless agreement - and you instinctively know it, even though you cannot bring yourselves to acknowledge it openly. When a country's security is threatened (as its citizens perceive it), this is what happens. And by the by, Germany, what are you doing to stop the drug trafficking into and through your country? Nothing, it seems. If it were not so, Dennmark would still be quiet. And Holland, same thing: what are you doing to stop the open drug traffic. Nothing.
14:47 May 12, 2011 by MrBowlocks

As you are not Danish, and this article has nothing to do with border passport control, your opinions on this matter are predictably irrelevant. I couldn't find which page in the Daily Mail you base your daily knee-jerk upon today, however.

Also, in my own experience, there seems to have been far more drugs in Copenhagen whenever I've been there than I ever saw in Germany. Perhaps they don't want to share them with us!
14:53 May 12, 2011 by FredFinger
Well Johnne, the danish press release says their action will be taken as an anti drug measure but I don't think that its an honest accounting of the real reason behind the new controls. I think the danes realize that further uncontrolled immigration by way of Germany will negatively impact their quality of life and they've decided to put a stop to it before the newly unsettled political situation in africa and the middle east unloads its refugees on europe.
15:28 May 12, 2011 by LancashireLad

You have short memories don't you? Fred put his finger on it with his initial comment. Was it not Bavaria who recently mooted stronger border controls with countries on its southern border due to worries about refugees migrating up through Italy?

I *believe* that' what he was saying - but I can see where the subtlety might be lost on some.

However you could also be forgiven for not equating Bavaria with Germany but that's another discussion ;-)
16:04 May 12, 2011 by Johnne
No FreshFinger, no...I think the Danish know exactly what they´re controlling and apparently Denmark is not so much of a target for african immigrants. And besides, I guess you know that Africa is a continent right? but there are unrests in Tunisia and Egypt.
16:23 May 12, 2011 by jeffi_in_denmark
The Swedes have had customs agents aka "border controls" in almost the exact same system on trains over the bridge from Denmark to Sweden. There are customs agents on ferries. There is nothing new in what Denmark is about to do: put their own customs agents at border crossings to ensure the flow of drugs and illegal activites is hopefully curbed. People need to chill a bit and politicians need to learn how to speak in public better.
16:26 May 12, 2011 by LiberalGuy

Exactly. But didn't you realise that calm rational comments have no place on The Local
18:49 May 12, 2011 by EastPrussia
All right Denmark! Finally a European country who gets it - "it" being the problems associated with just allowing anybody across your borders. Crime, drugs, illegal immigration and so on are now prevented to a stronger degree. Besides, the critics of this decision should realize that Denmark can do whatever it wants to. It has no obligations to other countries for some unwritten, de facto rule about free movement.
20:55 May 12, 2011 by Ann-Teresa
I'm waiting for the day that Denmark finally annouces that it's pulling out of the EU altogether. Already four opt-outs and constantly at odds with the EU over any number of issues. It wouldn't be a surprise.
22:50 May 12, 2011 by crm114
"I'm waiting for the day that Denmark finally annouces that it's pulling out of the EU altogether..." bring it on, the sooner the euro project collapses the better.
23:27 May 12, 2011 by hrt1
Well, Fred-F has too many African / Arabian neighbors which makes him whine all day long, which explains why a Danish news gets related to African / Arabian immigrants.

About the Danes, I totally agree to the viewpoint that they should do something about Copenhagen instead.
01:40 May 13, 2011 by Gabriel Grubb
Good for the Danes! Stop the foreigners coming in and kick the ones now there out!
04:24 May 13, 2011 by Ann-Teresa
@Gabriel Grubb

Not all foreigners in Denmark or who want to move to Denmark (or Sweden, Germany, France, etc.) go there because they want to live off benefits and "exploit the welfare state" or commit crimes or otherwise take advantage of the natives. Some people, a few Americans included, emigrate to Western/Northern Europe because they would rather live in a country where the majority of the populace is more enlightened, progressive and tolerant and less greedy, violent and warrior-like. I've spent a lot of time in various places in Europe and am now currently living in what is supposedly the most progressive city in the U.S., New York, yet I feel like something of an outsider, because my views on many issues are so different from those of everyone around me. I would jump at the chance to work and pay what Americans would consider excessive taxes to live in Copenhagen or Berlin.

That said, I do realize that many of the foreigners in Western/Northern Europe now are problematic, for reasons too many to list, so I think that Denmark does have a right to pick and choose who it lets in. It's just unfair when the desire to keep out some people has to ruin the possibility for someone else. Although they're not likely to openly admit it (except for some in the DFP), Denmark's points system was intended to keep immigration from less progressive places in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe at a bare minimum, but it, along all of the confusing rules around it, has ensnared too many "desired" immigrants (i.e., educated Westerners who've moved to DK for work or love or some other reason).
08:35 May 13, 2011 by catjones
@Ann-Teresa......'my views on many issues are so different from those of everyone around me.'

Solution: find new friends. Check out the Danish neighborhoods in NY.
12:46 May 13, 2011 by Johnne

Most Africans, Asians, and Eastern Europeans I know are more progressive and educated than you are...one could tell with the way you connect this article with immigration. Despite the fact that the Danes themselves make it clear that it´s a "custom control" for drug trafficking, some people here again have decided to use this article as an oportunity to express their racist,bigotry, xenophobic, stereotyping views. Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe are "less progressive" and Mexico, South and Middle America + Middle East too right? yeah right...maybe you are the one to really check where the world´s new progressive regions are sister..

I think some people here are still living in the past, a past that still believe that there is a "third world" somewhere and the citizens of thses "third world" will always be poor, plagued with diseases and always want to come to their countries for aid. My own fatherland has an economic growth of 7,9% I can´t remember what USA´s is? is it up to 2%? I don´t think so. You see, before we offend each other too much, let us inform ourselves properly about other regions we want to comment on and judge from our FOX news channels, living rooms and small worlds where in some cases people like Ann-Teresa won´t even know the leader of her neighbour country..not to talk of Africa.
16:46 May 13, 2011 by FredFinger
The fact is the 3rd world and even the 5th world do very much exist. Its also a fact that we in the 1st world can ill afford to accept the disadvantaged from either. Say no to further immigration from africa, the middle east and indeed from every problematic region. Immigration lowers wages, strains the social system and dilutes western culture with the ignorant, uneducated masses that should be left in place to help their own regions emerge from poverty.
18:00 May 13, 2011 by Katzerina
The gumball method of explaining how third world immigration does nothing to help the poor.. .very succinct.

Unfortunately thelocal doesn't allow me to link to the video on youtube.

Search for: Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs - Updated 2010
18:11 May 13, 2011 by Gabriel Grubb
@ Anna-Tereas not all of them -but a large proportion do! They only come to Europe for free social housing and welfare and large percentage commit crime!Everybody knows it! Why pretend otherwise! For political reasons only?
18:21 May 13, 2011 by EastPrussia
Well said FredFinger...well said.
20:30 May 13, 2011 by Ann-Teresa

Working on it, but was generalizing (perhaps slightly over-, but only slightly) about the culture/society at large in the U.S.


Thank you.


"Most Africans, Asians, and Eastern Europeans I know are more progressive and educated than you are...one could tell with the way you connect this article with immigration"

I rather doubt it. First of all, since you're accusing me of being an ignorant racist -- a shocking first that I can recall -- maybe I should point out that I have African ancestry, and I am better educated, more well-traveled and more knowledgable about the world and its affairs than many of my fellow Americans. So, call me an elisist snob, I don't care anymore, but don't dare call me a an ignorant racist.

Secondly, while the article was about border controls and customs at the Danish border, this conversation on the board clearly veered from just the border control news and into the territory of immigration and what might have prompted Denmark's position.

And if I were watching FOX News, I most likely would not be reading The Local, The Guardian, Politiken, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times or watching Deutsche Welle's Journal or France 24 or France 2.
00:49 May 14, 2011 by hrt1
@Ann-Teresa + Fred-F

Clearly, an ancestry, a better education, or travels abroad will not cure any ignorance inherent to that person.

And Americans should never raise oppositions against immigrants in Europe - as all Americans are immigrants themselves.

When have you become an European aristocrat out of no one?

Stop pretending that you are greater than who you really are.
04:08 May 14, 2011 by Domdeone
Well left unchecked check Englands statistics. 2 million extra immigrants in the last 20 years alone! thanks to our cursed last labour government.How can we sustain whole continents of immigration onto our small isle?Some economists value cheap labour & want more to better the market & some buffoons at Brussels say we need more of our share in line with europe.

We have lots of profesionals but too many economic migrants that wont or cant work, non English speaking, the prisons are predominantly full of immigrants, crime;drugs, guns & assaults are just a daily way of life today. If the numbers are not checked, life in europe will be so fragmented as British towns & cities are today. You have all been warned!!
04:59 May 14, 2011 by Swag2TZ
Lets not stop here.....lets tighten all the borders in Europe. Guns,drugs, humans being taken across the borders every day. Wake up you pussies. Get tough, or lose it all.
23:13 May 24, 2011 by KPTheDane
Denmark maintain it's own sovereignty, hence no Maastricht binding us.
04:30 June 27, 2011 by akazikian
I find it fascinating how similar the EU us to the United States in 1780's. The colonies were constantly fighting how much control they were willing to give up to the Federal government (hell, we're still fighting about it). In the end, the signing of the Constitution in 1787 was a Goddamned miracle: 13 very loosely connected colonies, all with very different designs (slavery, anyone?) and desires gave up huge portions of their sovereignty so that 200 years later I could be typing this from the world's only superpower. Europe has all the chance in the world now to rise like the US once did. But to do so would mean to stop thinking of yourselves as Danish or German. It's time to say proudly instead that you are a European first, and a Dane or German second. Then Europe will be great. Otherwise, you will be a feast for the Muslims, Russians, and Chinese. It's happened before. Europe is Dead. Long Live Europe.
19:20 September 5, 2011 by Nalla
I am not sure if it is good or bad. I believe Denmark has the right to do so. But at the same time Switzerland is doing the same thing and no one seems to care. I was recently (last month) travelling in Europe and there was active border control between Switzerland and Germany. My car had to stop. The Guard looked at us and waved. There was absolutely none between Czech Republic and Germany. Swiss always get best & sweetest deals (Like all the benefits of a EU Membership without contributing to it).

Swiss get away with anything and more humane Danes get the slap!
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