On Wednesday, Denmark suspended all rail and motor links with Germany to stop migrants mostly transiting from Denmark to Sweden. Three trains have been stopped.
There were 500 arrests of train passengers and 300 on the motorway. Most said they were heading for Sweden. Sweden is a preferred destination for many asylum seekers that have relatives there or know of the broadly welcoming tradition of the country towards asylum seekers.
Under the previous government, Denmark has created a temporary residence permit, allowing the expulsion of refugees after their country is not considered dangerous and has discouraged government reunification.
Denmark, has recently run a campaign in ten languages, in countries like Turkey and Lebanon, trying to discourage refugees from applying for asylum. Sweden has urged Denmark to register refugees. And the Danish Prime Minister, Mr Rasmussen, has said that he is seeking “a European solution” to the refugee crisis. A proposal to this end has yet to be made.
Nonetheless, Demark has a Justice and Home Affairs opt out from “European affairs” and both the previous and the current government have denied any connection to the quota plan announced by the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker. Speaking to the press on Monday, the Danish Minister of Justice, Ellmann-Jensen, has underlined that Danish policy on this matter is not dictated “in Brussels or Stockholm,” but that a “reasonable” number of refugees might be acceptable. Denmark is to hold a referendum on whether to hold on its opt-out privilege on December 3rd.
In this sense, context, a European solution is one in which Denmark will not participate in. This is not the first time Denmark closes its borders. A similar decision was taken following the Arab Spring in 2011.
At the time, Denmark was not alone. France was protesting Italy providing residence permits to Tunisian migrants that were in turn turning to France and briefly reintroduced border controls. Meanwhile, the Home Secretary Theresa May had ruled out any UK involvement in a common EU asylum policy to address a surge of immigrants from countries such as Tunisia and Libya.