Sweden tightens asylum rules to force EU action
STOCKHOLM: Sweden will introduce tighter border controls and asylum rules in a bid to reduce the number of asylum seekers reaching the country, and force other EU countries to take in greater numbers of refugees, the government said yesterday. Sweden expects up to 190,000 asylum seekers to reach its borders this year and says its reception system cannot cope. “The situation is untenable,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. “Now, to put it bluntly, more people will have to seek asylum and get protection in other European countries.”
The move is a huge blow to Swedes’ view of their country as a humanitarian superpower and a team player in international organizations. Vice premier Asa Romson of the Green Party was close to tears at the news conference as she announced the tougher measures.
Lofven said the new rules would be in force for three years and that Sweden’s asylum system needed “breathing space”.
Around 80,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Sweden over the last two months and the Migration Agency said earlier in November it could no longer guarantee accommodation for all. Some asylum seekers have been forced to sleep rough just as the freezing Swedish winter begins to bite. Sweden introduced its first largescale border controls in decades in November to slow down the flow of asylum seekers, but the move has had only a limited effect.
In the last seven days, around 8,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, down slightly from around 10,000 a week earlier this month. “It is clear that migration politics in the EU need to be completely reviewed,” Lofven said.
He said the EU needed a permanent system to evenly distribute asylum seekers across the 28-member bloc. The government said it planned to widen the number of asylum seekers receiving temporary asylum.
Until the current crisis, all those granted asylum have been given permanent residency. The government introduced temporary asylum earlier this month, but gave exceptions to children and families. Now only asylum seekers coming to Sweden under international quota agreements will be given permanent asylum after the new rules are introduced, probably in April next year. In addition, the country will introduce ID checks on all public transport into the country from the continent and tighten rules for family reunion.—Reuters
Workers extinguish a fire that broke out early in the morning on October 20, 2015 at an accommodation for asylum seekers near Munkedal in Sweden. — AFP