Sweden’s government is tightening its immigration rules as the largest Nordic economy buckles under the inflow of a record number of refugees.
The country, which has received 80,000 asylum seekers in the past two months, will start giving temporary residence permits rather than permanent ones to all asylum seekers unless they arrive under the United Nations quota system, Prime Minister Stefan Loefven said at a press conference in Stockholm Tuesday. This will adjust rules to the “minimum EU level” to gain some “breathing room,” he said. Legislation will be in place by the end of April and apply for three years, he said.
“It hurts me to say that we no longer can accept asylum seekers at the high level we are doing today,” Loefven said. “Our assessment is that these measures will decrease the numbers sharply.”
The government will also tighten rules for family reunions and introduce identification card controls on buses and trains to Sweden, after earlier erecting border checks and starting controls on ferries.
While that has had some effect, Loefven said the inflow of asylum seekers is still unsustainable and that other European Union countries must take more responsibility.
The “only sustainable solution is that the 28 member countries handle this together,” he said.
As many as 190,000 asylum seekers are expected to arrive this year in the country of 10 million people, a development that has overwhelmed authorities who have already run out of housing. Some families are sleeping in heated army tents and in the streets of the city of Malmoe. The Migration Agency said on Tuesday it may now start using passenger ferries to house refugees. The influx of people from mainly Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq could reach more than 350,000 this year and next, according to the agency.