Nordic States Explore Regional Border Regime Amid Migrant Crisis

The Nordic countries are moving closer to considering a regional border as they try to coordinate their efforts to contain the influx of migrants coming from the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Less than a week after Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told the national broadcaster that such a model was an option, a Swedish government minister said the idea had her support.

“I’m positive, I’m in favor,” Kristina Persson, Sweden’s Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Cooperation, said on Monday in an interview in Dubai. Though the Swedish government hasn’t held formal talks on the subject, an arrangement “could be sorted out between our governments,” she said.

The comments follow a deterioration in relations between Sweden and Denmark, with the government in Stockholm blaming the Danes for shirking their responsibility in absorbing asylum seekers fleeing Syria. Sweden let in about 163,000 people seeking refuge within its borders last year, compared with just over 20,000 in Denmark.

A coordinated border arrangement in the Nordic region would help “minimize the negative effects on our relations between countries,” Persson said.

Border checks started by Sweden are now hampering the daily commute for thousands traveling on the bridge between Malmoe, Sweden’s third largest city, and Copenhagen.

Sweden said last month it will probably need to send back about half the asylum seekers that crossed its borders in 2015 after they failed to meet the criteria that would have allowed them to stay. An International Monetary Fund discussion paper shows Scandinavia’s largest economy will spend as much as 1 percent of gross domestic product on absorbing migrants this year, more than any other European nation.

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