Tight Danish Border Controls Demanded for Climate Conference

The Danish opinion newspaper Information is now carrying this brief piece from the Ritzau news agency. Denmark only joined the EU’s Schengen Area of visa-free state-to-state travel with the other Nordic states in March, 2001, but now calls are issuing from some Danish politicians to temporarily re-impose border controls in the run-up to that “Cop15” United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Copenhagen starting the second week of December that you might have heard about.

Who specifically is making this demand? No surprise: it’s the Danish People’s Party, the influential and powerful party (although it’s not part of the current government) best known for its strict attitude towards immigrants, asylum-seekers, and foreigners in general. In particular, it was that party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Søren Espersen, who raised this demand when being interviewed on a Danish TV news show. “We want only proper (ordentlige) people come to Denmark,” he proclaimed – presumably referring only to the period around the climate conference, although you need to be careful because, if it could, the People’s Party would clearly raise that principle to general applicability. This is no idle request, either: Espersen made clear in that same interview that the People’s Party wants to see movement towards re-imposing those border controls before it will resume cooperating with the government in pushing an important new financial law through the Danish parliament, the Folketing.

The point is of course to try to keep out those elements who might try to come to Copenhagen to make trouble in the streets while all the international bureaucrats and heads of state/government are assembled for the climate conference. The Schengen Treaty apparently does allow for the sort of temporary re-imposition of border controls that the People’s Party is requesting (not that it particularly matters to the party’s politicians whether it is allowed or not). Their demand has also won support from the Danish Conservative Party, which is important since they’re actually in the government. (It has been dismissed, on the other hand, by the Socialist People’s Party – which matters less, since they are not.)

So are you planning to head to Denmark in the near future? (In particular: Are you planning to be in Copenhagen for the big conference? Really? How on earth did you find a hotel room, or do you have friends there?) If so, better be prepared for some extra checks as you cross the border.

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