Sweden reintroduces border checks, citing ‘a serious threat’

May 5, 2022, 8:50 PM | Updated: May 6, 2022, 9:19 am

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden said Friday it was reintroducing temporary border controls at ferry terminals, airports, road crossings with other countries and other entry points to the Scandinavian nation because there “still is a serious threat to public order and internal security.”

The Swedish government said the temporary controls would start immediately and last until Nov. 11, meaning travelers will have to show passports and visas during the 6-month period.

The government did not mention a specific threat in its announcement but said the security situation in the country’s region of Europe is “extremely serious, and the overall terrorist threat level in Sweden remains elevated.”

Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson noted that once inside Europe’s passport-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area, people can move relatively freely among 26 countries — 22 European Union nations plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Normally, people and goods move freely between these countries without border checks. Temporary controls are allowed for security or health reasons, and several other Schengen countries, including Germany, Austria, Norway and Denmark, have them in place, Johansson said.

Reintroducing border controls “creates the conditions for identifying and controlling those who wish to enter the country,” the minister said. “It can also help to identify potential perpetrators and thus prevent possible terrorist attacks.”

At least seven Schengen Area countries currently have some border restrictions in place, mostly for security reasons or to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some countries — notably Austria, France and Denmark — routinely renew them and have done so for years.

The European Union’s top court handed down a ruling last month that could force countries to regularly justify why they are conducting ID checks on people who should be able to move without them within the Schengen Area.

The European Court of Justice ruled that countries must justify why they are rolling over the border measures, and that they should only do so “in the event of a serious new threat arising.” Under the Schengen rulebook, it said, border controls “cannot exceed a maximum total duration of six months.”

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Sweden reintroduces border checks, citing ‘a serious threat’