EU solution to Nordic border controls

19.04.16 | News
Henrik Dam Kristensen
Morten Brakestad
Solutions at EU level and closer Nordic co-operation are needed to deal with the refugee crisis and put an end to border controls in the Nordic Region. This was the message from several of the speakers when border controls were debated at the Nordic Council Theme Session in Oslo.

Michael Tetzschner of the Conservative Group was one of those who highlighted the role of the EU and the importance of the Schengen Agreement to dealing with the refugee crisis. “The Nordic problems won’t be solved until the situation on the EU’s outer borders has been normalised,” he said.

“Unless Schengen is beefed up, we will have no option but to retain national border controls, including in our part of the world, until the pressure eases,” said Tetzschner, who hopes that border controls in the Nordic Region will only be a temporary measure.

After the debate, he was asked by a journalist whether his line of argument implies that the EU should control of work previously done under the auspices of Nordic co-operation.

“Yes, you might say that. The Nordic Passport Union can’t go on if the Schengen Agreement and the Dublin Regulation aren’t working.”

Closer Nordic co-operation

Several of the speakers also made strong calls for closer Nordic co-operation to get rid of border controls.

“If the EU's outer borders and the new allocation system for refugees within the Union don’t work, then we will need to engage in a dialogue in the Nordic Region and think about how to cope with the situation. Our ministers need to talk with each other and find solutions,” said Social Democrat Phia Andersson.

Unless Schengen is beefed up, we will have no option but to retain national border controls, including in our part of the world, until the pressure eases.


The debate began with a speech by Anne Berner, who chairs the ministers for Nordic co-operation on behalf of Finland. She told the Session that the ministers have decided to make integration a higher priority and to intensify work on measures designed to ameliorate the negative consequences of border controls. Their ultimate aim is full freedom of movement in the Nordic Region.

“Extraordinary situation”

Carl Haglund of the Centre Group was satisfied with the promise made by the ministers for co-operation.

“It’s good that the ministers see the current situation as temporary and have their sleeves rolled up in the search for a long-term solution,” he said

Juho Eerola, who represents Nordic Freedom, proposed that the Nordic Council set up a working party to look at immigration policy.

“The group should consist of members of all of the party groups and those not in any group,” Eerola said.

At a press conference after the debate, the President of the Nordic Council, Henrik Dam Kristensen, said that the Region finds itself in an extraordinary situation and that “extraordinary situations require extraordinary solutions”.

“I respect the measures that have been taken but as a Nordic politician I very much hope that they will only be for a short period.”

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Michael Tetzschner on the role of the EU in the refugee crisis and the importance of the Schengen co-operation: