Saturday, July 2, 2011

Denmark approves setting up border controls, despite the reluctance of the EU

The Danish government on Friday brought forward in the Folketing (parliament) its plan to establish permanent customs checks at borders with Sweden and Germany, which has led to fears about the possibility of violating the Schengen treaty on free movement. After weeks of tough discussions, delays and speculation supports the Parliament today rejected a motion from the opposition that sought to overthrow the government agreement between the liberal-conservative, ultra-nationalist Danish People's Party (DF) and the only Christian Democrat deputy, Per- Oerum Joergensen.

We expected a long discussion, but the fact that a few days ago confirmed Joergensen finally vote with the Government and give and an absolute majority, which today would not have provoked discussion and opposing the motion was defeated by 58 votes to 50 and only 60% of the deputies present.

The Finance Committee of Parliament, where the government has clear majority to the City, a few hours later approved the funds to implement the agreement in a meeting he thought would be postponed until after the summer due to the summer closing of Parliament. Implementation of the plan of customs controls will be immediate, but the last phase, which includes the disputed border will not be completed until 2014.

Revenue Minister Peter Christensen, today announced that on Tuesday there will be fifty new customs agents. Thirty will be on the German border, 10 ferries that connect towns and Roedby Danish Gedser this country, five at the entrance to the bridge linking Sweden with Denmark and five in Helsingoer, from where ferries to the city Swedish Helsingborg.

By the end of the year will be allocated over 48 agents, according to the plan, which intends to invest 270 million kroner (36 million euros) in personnel and technological equipment. Parliamentary procedure that closes two months since the agreement was presented by the Government, which have raised the Danish political landscape, with heated discussions among the parties themselves who support the opposition, Brussels and other EU countries, as well as critical Danish employers.

The Danish decision came amid a debate on Schengen in the EU, which last week agreed to amend the treaty to allow the temporary reintroduction of internal border after the massive influx of immigrants from North Africa. The new rules, promoted by France and Italy, will include a safeguard clause for exceptional circumstances that endanger the functioning of the Schengen cooperation in general, without undermining the principle of free movement of people.

The debate in these two months in Denmark reached a pitch at times very hard, especially after the moderate critical of some German politicians to understand that this measure encouraged nationalism, which triggered a reaction front of the City, with allusions to Nazi past Germany. Nothing unusual in a game, "key" to most of the government since 2001, used stronger expressions against migrants and has driven the tougher immigration policy of the EU, although normally reserved for domestic policy.

These attacks and doubts of the European Commission (EC) led the government to launch a diplomatic offensive to reassure its European partners and insist they are only border controls to curb crime and respect Schengen. The Government has done well to secure publicly that will keep the EC of the progress of the plan and accept the recommendations made to it to avoid a possible lawsuit against Denmark in the European courts for violation of Schengen.

Faced with this conciliatory attitude, the president of the City, Pia Kjaersgaard, urged the EC to initiate a case in court if it believes the agreement is illegal. The decision to restore control of the government was a concession to Mexico City, whose real power in the Danish policy exceeds its third party status of deputies to support the reforms of pensions and early retirement.

But the efforts of the Danish government and its allies can remain in nothing in a few months after the general election, still undated, but must be held before November. The leftist opposition, which polls show the favorite, has already announced its intention to reform the project, eliminating the permanent checkpoints.

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