German politician complains to Denmark over border control
A Danish-German representative in the German parliament has complained to Denmark’s government over ongoing controls on the border between the two countries.
Published: 1 August 2022 15:49 CEST
Queues at the Denmark-Germany border in 2020. A German Bundestag representative has criticised the impact of the controls on local traffic. Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix
Checks by Danish police on the border with Germany have been criticised by a member of the Bundestag parliament, who says they cause severe delays for motorists and inconvenience for local residents.
The border controls involve a filtering-down of the northbound E45 motorway to a single lane as it enters Denmark to allow police to pull aside cars for spot checks.
Kilometre-long queues can result from the checks. Vehicles travelling in the opposite direction into Germany are not subject to border control by the German authorities.
Other roads which cross the border, including at the nearby town of Frøslev, also have border checks in place. Delays have also been reported here.
Danish-German politician Stefan Seidler, who represents the minority party Sydslesvigsk Vælgerforening (German: Südschleswigscher Wählerverband, SSW) in Germany’s Bundestag parliament, has sent a complaint to Copenhagen via the Danish embassy in Berlin, broadcaster DR reports.
The party represents members of the Danish minority population in South Schleswig, the region of northern Germany which borders Denmark.
Seidler said that local residents who regularly cross the border sometimes face waits of up to two hours as they go about their daily business.
“For us, this is about being able to live together in our region and not be prevented from going to work or visiting our family on the other side of the border. It’s simply not possible at the moment. It takes too long,” Seidler told DR.
The Bundestag representative is not the only local critic of the border control. German-Danish organisation Region Sønderjylland-Schleswig recently sent a letter to the Danish justice minister, Mattias Tesfaye, to alert him to long waiting times for residents, commuters and tourists crossing the border.
Congestion at smaller border crossings – which occurs when motorists seek alternative routes to the E45 – can get so bad that residents have on occasion “been unable to get on and off their front drives”, Seidler told DR.
“We have fire engines and ambulances which can’t drive around in the border area because there are kilometre-long queues caused by border controls conducted by Denmark,” he said.
Denmark first introduced the border controls in January 2016 in response to the European refugee crisis of late 2015 and has kept them in place since.
EU countries which are part of the Schengen agreement, like Denmark, are permitted to introduce border controls if these are deemed necessary to protect internal security. The government cites the threat of Islamist terrorism and organised crime in its justification for perpetuating the controls.
The controls may be extended for a maximum of six months. As such, they are still considered to be temporary even though they are now into their seventh year.
Seidler expressed scepticism over Denmark’s justifications for the controls in his comments to DR.
“First it was refugees, then the terror threat, then the coronavirus pandemic. It’s taking advantage of the system,” he said.
“As things [the international situation, ed.] are now, it’s incredibly old-fashioned, ineffective and in my view pure political symbolism from Denmark,” he added.
Tesfaye was not available for comment on the matter when his ministry was contacted by DR.
National Police figures reported by the broadcaster show that, as of 2019, 801 weapons had been confiscated on the Denmark-Germany border due to the controls. 7,134 people had been turned away from the border, in some cases due to forgetting their passports. 5,479 charges had been issued for people smuggling, narcotics smuggling or possession of weapons.
The numbers were described by former government spokesperson for justice Tine Bramsen as “big” in 2019 comments to DR. Bramsen said they were proof the controls are effective.