The Freedom of Movement Council presents its views in a referral response to the Swedish government’s legislative proposal regarding “the temporary ban on transporting persons without valid identity documents into Sweden”. If the proposal becomes a reality, train and bus companies that transport people to Sweden may be forced to check the IDs of all passengers.
The Freedom of Movement Council, which works to promote freedom of movement in the Nordic Region, points out that tens of thousands of people could be affected.
“If the proposal becomes a reality, it could hit the border regions and the roughly 45,000 Nordic citizens who commute to work across the borders especially hard. It also affects Nordic companies in Sweden’s neighbouring countries – companies that employ thousands of people living in Sweden. The Freedom of Movement Council understands that political action is required to manage a possible refugee crisis and to strengthen national security, but we’re asking the Swedish government to consider alternative solutions,” says the chair of the Freedom of Movement Council, Siv Friðleifsdóttir.
Government looking for permanent solution
The background to the proposed bill is that the ID checks introduced in January 2016 have been pushed through by way of temporary legislation. The law came into force in December 2018, and now the Swedish government wants to have a permanent means to quickly introduce ID checks and carrier liability at its borders, when needed.
Around 90 percent of all cross-border commuting in the Nordic Region originates from Sweden to other Nordic countries. ID checks would be especially hard felt in the Öresund region, where around 18,000 commuters move between Denmark and Sweden every day. However, the regions bordering Norway and Finland would encounter big problems as well.
Freedom of Movement Council calls for impact analysis
In its referral response, the Freedom of Movement Council cites disagreement with the government regarding the impact assessment of previous ID checks. The council also believes that the legislative proposal doesn’t take sufficiently take into account investigations conducted in the field.
The Freedom of Movement Council says that an impact assessment is also missing for the border regions and points out that the needs of the border regions must be taken into account if ID checks are to be introduced. The council emphasises that any ID checks should only be introduced after careful assessment and be used restrictively.
“Use existing solutions”
The Freedom of Movement Council suggests that instead of new ID checks, the government should consider how existing border checks within the framework of the Schengen code can be used and how cross-border police co-operation can be strengthened.
The council also calls for better dialogue with cross-border actors, affected countries and authorities, as well as other stakeholders, regardless of whether the proposed bill is passed.
In its referral response, the Freedom of Movement Council also mentions the Nordic prime ministers’ vision for the Nordic Region to be the most integrated and sustainable region in the world by 2030.
The Freedom of Movement Council is an independent body and its referral responses by no means represent the positions of the Nordic governments or the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The Freedom of Movement Council safeguards the interests of private individuals and businesses in matters that hinder mobility and growth in the Nordic Region and works to solve and prevent obstacles to freedom of movement between the Nordic countries. The Freedom of Movement Council has ten members who come from all the Nordic countries as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. Although the members are appointed by their respective governments, the council is politically independent. The Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers also sits on the council, as well as a representative from the Nordic Council.