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Justice minister demands EU probe Danish border controls

The Local · 1 Jul 2011, 17:00

Published: 01 Jul 2011 17:00 GMT+02:00

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“I expect the European Commission as guardian of (EU) treaties to probe the compatibility of the Danish decision with European law,” she told the daily Hamburger Abendblatt in comments to be published on Saturday.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said Copenhagen’s move to reimpose customs checks on border crossings with Germany and Sweden was a “bad day for Europe” and in clear violation of its EU treaty obligations.

Denmark’s minority government, prodded by the far-right populist DVP party, on Friday announced it would start to make random checks starting next week ostensibly to stem the flow of criminals from eastern Europe. But the EU and the country’s neighbours have argued they will impinge on the freedom of movement within the visa-free Schengen area.

Danish officials on Friday tried to play down the impact of the border checks, saying they would not hinder traffic and trade.

“The vast majority of travellers won’t notice the checks. We welcome German holidaymakers,” said Peter Christensen, the Danish minister responsible for customs and taxation.

Story continues below…

Starting on Tuesday, 30 customs agents on the German border and 20 officers at Swedish crossings will make stops to search for drugs, weapons and illegal sums of money. Next year the number of agents will increase and Denmark will install electronic scanning equipment and build new customs houses along major road and rail routes.

DPA/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:27 July 1, 2011 by MJMH
This is none of Germany's business. Denmark is a country. Denmark can do what it wants. Bailing out Greece was against the EU rules but it has happened. The are so many examples of going against European treaties.

Germany stop strong arming Denmark.
18:29 July 1, 2011 by Englishted
Fair play to Denmark wish more countries would follow their lead.
22:22 July 1, 2011 by So36
I'd be pissed if I was a Danish taxpayer. What a complete waste of money.
00:53 July 2, 2011 by MJMH
I'd be more pissed if My house was robbed and my car was stolen or the copper railroad ties and graveyard statues were stolen by a bunch of non-Danes. And that is what exactly happened.
07:25 July 2, 2011 by ChrisRea

When a country joins an international organisation like NATO, UN or EU, it restricts its freedom of action and so it gives up a part of its sovereignty. This is common in the modern world. Mrs. Thatcher said already in 1975: "Almost every major nation has been obliged by the pressures of the post-war world to pool significant areas of sovereignty so as to create more effective political units."

The legal basis for bailing out Greece is article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty (so it is not against a European treaty). What are the other alleged breaches of European treaties?

I also think Danemark should be punished for not respecting the Schengen Agreement. If you do not want to respect the rules, you should give up your membership first.
09:23 July 2, 2011 by Bushdiver
@ @ MJMH............Well, then I guess Germany should get out of NATO since they time and again do not fullfill their commitment. It's the Danes country and no other country should be able to force their will on them. Good for Denmark.
10:46 July 2, 2011 by So36
Good for Denmark? No, it's good politically for a minority of xenophobic populists in the DVP. This expensive display is pointless and just stupid fearmongering. I look forward to it being meekly abandoned after the next election.
11:22 July 2, 2011 by crm114
"....What are the other alleged breaches of European treaties?"

Stability and growth pact - France and Germany have consistently broken its rules even though they are the arch proponents of it.

Lisbon Treaty article 125 - no bailout

Treaty on European Union Art 103

The problem with these agreements is that they are so littered with get out of jail free cards as to make them not worth the paper they are written on. The sooner the unelected Brussels junta and its house of cards comes crashing down the better. My fear is that its too late, there are too many vested interests to consider what might be best for Europeans.

Anyway to get back on track, Directive 2004/58/EC Article 27 appears to allow Denmark to do just this. Aren't loopholes great !
12:25 July 2, 2011 by Johnne
Insecured minds at work again. They´re always afraid of foreigners, muslims or colored people coming to "their country" now they want to speak for the Dans. They know the EU borderless laws :-)
13:07 July 2, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
Anybody, who often crosses the borders on the way to Britain, can expect to have their cars, cases or passports checked. I have not yet seen complaints about this practice, after all it is for everybody's safety.

Perhaps if Germany would re-introduce such controls we would have less trouble with the criminals pouring into this country. Pickpockets and car thieves are having a wonderful time now that the the police forces have also suffered staff cuts.
14:39 July 2, 2011 by lunchbreak
We should indeed be afraid of rif-raff of any kind coming into the country. The Danes are beginning to do what all countries in the EU will be doing as the the threat becomes inescapably obvious to even the most oblivious libertarian. A lot of damage has been done already unfortunately. A country that does not have control over its borders has control over nothing.
19:18 July 2, 2011 by MJMH
These border controls are a byproduct of the Muslim cartoons. Many in the government admit that.

If what is considered harmful to the EU means a member state should be kicked out would only prove that the EU is not a democratic idea.

As for Denmark only being Christiania, well there's oil in the North Sea, perhaps the most prosperous agricultural sector in Europe and Danish Design, which not only includes household products but windmills, which the Chinese want as well as many countries in the Middle East. Denmark would probably do quite well without all the EU mess.
19:29 July 2, 2011 by 9900lawre
A twist on the monty python comedy 'Life of Brian'. "Denmark isn't an independant country, it's a very naughty member! Now %!$$ off the lot of you!"

What does the EU think it can do to enforce anything anyway? Sanctions and strategic bombing? 99.9% likely not and nothing! For Denmark or any other country to forever blindly follow an agreement without review or question to changes in circumstance is madness. When the original agreement was signed there may have been very little thought to the circumstances of todays world and the impact it could have on the members that signed.

Good luck Denmark, the rest of Europe watches in anticipation to see if you can make it work, The sceptics watch with fear of being the last countrys standing to act.
00:17 July 3, 2011 by Ich
I think we are beginning to re-discover that good fences make good neighbors, and that tolerating all beliefs leads to having no beliefs, and eventually winding up without a pot to p** in, too.
00:21 July 3, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ crm114 #8

I have less experience in interpreting the EU law than the national one. However, article 125 of the Lisbon Treaty clearly talks about assuming the commitments made by the government of a member state and not about giving financial assistance to the respective government (bailing out Greece means loaning them money, not giving the money for free). So the relevant article in this case is article 122: "Where a Member State is in difficulties ... the Council ... may grant ... Union financial assistance to the Member State concerned."

The other article you mention (#103) is about implementation of articles 101 & 102 (dealing with competition within the internal market of the EU, nothing resembling bailouts).

Directive 2004/58/EC Article 27 talks about restricting the freedom of movement at individual level (so the particular persons - not category of people - that are proven to represents a danger for public policy or public security). Based on this directive, countries can deny freedom of movement to Max Mustermann (so a clearly identified person), if there are clear proofs that he is a danger public policy or public security. In no case this directive can be considered a legal basis for the border controls instituted by Danemark.

What do you mean by "unelected Brussels junta"? European MPs are directly elected. Or you are not familiar with this procedure either?
11:19 July 3, 2011 by crm114
no comment on the Stability and growth pact, we at least agree on something!

What you conveniently omit in your Art.122 quote is relevant, "Where a Member State is in difficulties or is seriously threatened with severe difficulties caused by natural disasters or exceptional occurrences beyond its control, ..." Greek debt is neither a natural disaster nor was beyond its control.

What article 125 states (rather than your interpretation) is "The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, ....." National debt is a (financial) commitment and is therefore prohibited, until at least the goalposts are moved.

The TEU Art.103 states "The Community shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments... see above. As you wish to bring in Article 101 it states "Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the ECB or with the central banks of the Member States....shall be prohibited..."

So yes something resembling bailouts. Merkel, Schaeuble and Papandreou all said in 2010 there would be no bailout.

Directive 2004/58/EC Article 27 does indeed "talks about restricting the freedom of movement at individual level..." (incidently nobody except you mentions categories of people unless you mean criminal category)

So how may one deny freedom of movement to Max.M ?

Well one method might be to take a closer look at who is entering your sovereign state, and that is what the Danes are proposing. Perhaps you could explain why this directive can "in no case be considered a legal basis for the border controls.."

Clearly unelected junta is rhetoric, my point is that only the Irish had the option to sign up (and rejected) to Lisbon, all other states were steamrollered into it based on their existing membership. The fact is that for the past 30 years voter turnout in EU elections has consistently fallen (currently 42%) whilst the EU has becomes steadily more powerful/insidious whilst simultaneously less legitimate. Our own apathy may well be responsible for this but maybe when the voter slips have a non of the above checkbox can our voices be heard.

Home James, and don't spare the coach and horses.
14:12 July 3, 2011 by ChrisRea
The Stability and Growth Pact is work-in-progress, as the figures and procedures are continuously adjusted (in both directions) so that they reach a balanced point. The latest adjustment was started in March 2011. So I did not want to discuss this here as it is a quite complex issue.

It appears that we got stuck in the issue of the bailout. You say that bailout means that EU assumed Greece's debts (so Greece does not have to pay these debts anymore). I say that bailout is giving a supplementary loan to Greece, loan that is to be paid back sometimes in the future. Thus we consider relevant two different articles of the Lisbon treaty. Apparently we have also different opinions about what triggered the crisis in Greece (you say that it was entirely under the control of Greece, I say that the global financial crisis turned a fragile system into chaos). As both of us made our arguments and are still convinced that we are right, we can move forward only once new arguments/perspectives/others come up.

Directive 2004/58/EC Article 27 cannot be considered a legal basis for the border controls because these would apply to all travelers, not only to those who were found to be a danger to the country. If we look also on how the directive is implemented (ex. "the persons concerned shall be notified in writing of any decision taken under Article 27(1)") we can easily see that it cannot be applied to border controls.

Regarding the Lisbon Treaty, all member countries had to ratified it on an individual basis. Ireland is the only country with a constitution saying that the ratification is to be carried through a referendum. And the Irish agreed with the Lisbon Treaty through the referendum held on 2 October 2009 (67.13% in favour).

Turnout in all elections has fallen in the last decades, not only the EU ones. In general, local elections are more popular than regional/national ones (it is more important what happens close to you), so it would be also natural that supranational issues are less engaging than national/regional/local ones.
17:48 July 3, 2011 by Chris Bering
ChrisRea, the SGP originates in the convergence criteria as set out in the treaty. Those criteria are fixed (3% deficit to GDP ratio and 60% debt to GDP ratio) and can only be changed through amendments to the treaty.

The rest of the SGP is 'voluntary' and negotiated by the 17 euro countries and the European Council. This includes things like defining Excessive Deficit Procedures and various deadlines.

Relevant to this discussion, it also defines protections from EU sanctions if the breach of the convergence criteria is due to a severe economic downturn (2% drop in annual GDP). So, as long as the Greek economy deteriorates at a rate greater than 2% annually, the "Stability and Growth Pact" specifically protects Greece from EU sanctions and other actions, like eviction from the eurozone.

Just another classic piece of EU legislation. A 12 year old can point out its inherent flaws, but "flaws" in a rational and sane world means "works as intended" in the EU.
18:09 July 3, 2011 by crm114
I would agree that the Stability and Growth pact is indeed a complex issue,

however this example of creative accounting was offered in response to your

request for examples. Don't shoot me I am only the messenger.

The bailout is not yet repaid, so the EU has indeed assumed the debt until

such time as it is paid back, which considering the evidence to date seems

to be unlikely. Lets face it this has nothing to do with helping our brother Greeks out and everything to do with saving the necks of the banks, their

political paymasters, and of course the project. Its putting off the inevitable

- an EU fudge.

I did not say "(....it was entirely under the control of Greece....) So why

do you say that? I said that it was within their control, had they not corrupted their system so much, then deceived about their corruption and had the greedy EU mandarins done their job properly then they would not be in the Euro in the first place and they would not now be in this chaos.

I do not see any restriction on the use of article 27 against all travellers,

the state applying the border controls needs only to suspect the personal

conduct of the individual concerned, border controls are staffed by people

trained to recognise the signs of people with something to hide.

Why do you assert that it cannot apply to all travellers?

As for notification in writing that can be issued at the point of entry at the time of entry and therefore is no barrier to use of art. 27.

Ireland voted in a democratic referendum and voted against Lisbon. But that

was not in the plan was it, so lets just have another referendum until we get

the result we want. Ireland was the only state given the opportunity for a vote, I wonder what would happen if all european citizens had been afforded that luxury. Look how well Norway and Switzerland are doing, its no co-incidence

that they are not EU members. Look also what is happening in Finland, where

the TrueFinns have gone from nothing to very nearly an overall majority in their national elections, Holland as well with the PVV is beginning to wake up and realise that we are sleepwalking into federalism.

Voter turnout may well be a general trend however it does not change the fact

that the EU has and will become more powerful and assuming a continuing trend in no show voters, LESS legitimate. But hey what does that matter, article 48 will take care of that. So I stand by my statement - unelected.

Unless of course you can persuade me otherwise.
19:32 July 3, 2011 by Chris Bering
ChrisRea, regarding bailouts, you're obviously confused about what the treaty allows and what has actually been done.

First of all, the ECB isn't allowed to lend money to state governments. IN ANY WAY. This means their buying of state government bonds, Spanish and Portuguese bonds in particular, is in violation of the treaty.

This unusual restriction of the ECB stems from the way the euro came about. Originally, the Germans were very reluctant to give up their d-mark, while the French were very enthusiastic about the euro project.

As one of the WW2 victors, the French used that power to veto the German wish for reunification.

In the end, the French got their euro, and Germany got unified. BUT, the Germans, knowing the fiscally irresponsible nature of the French and South Europeans in general, made sure to protect themselves from being looted through the ECB.

What they didn't count on, was that the law wouldn't be enforced - not even the current German government is insisting that the law be followed.

As a result, a frenchman, Trichet, is showering Southern Europe with German wealth, through the ECB's illegal buying of state bonds.

Trichet is also buying toxic assets in the secondary market, but that is actually allowed, according to the law. Why didn't the Germans insist on prohibiting something like that too? Probably, they lacked the imagination to think someone would ever be THAT crazy and irresponsible.
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