Europe

Passport free travel under threat in Europe with new border controls

COPENHAGEN — The latest developments as tens of thousands of people flee to Europe in search of asylum. All times local.

1:55 p.m.

Germany says Europe’s system of passport-free travel across borders is in danger following Denmark’s decision to step up controls on its southern frontier with Germany.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer says freedom of movement across most European Union countries is “perhaps one of the greatest achievements in the last 60 years.”

Schaefer told reporters in Berlin on Monday that the Schengen system “is very important, but it’s in danger due to the flow of refugees.”

He echoed other German officials’ calls for a pan-European agreement on how to control the movement of migrants across borders.

Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said of the Danish movement that “it will have to be watched very carefully whether and how this affects migration northward from Germany.”

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1:05 p.m.

The German government is underlining the need for European solutions to the migrant crisis following Denmark’s decision to step up controls on its southern border with Germany.

German officials didn’t comment directly Monday on the Danish decision, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen had spoken with the German leader.

Germany introduced border controls of its own on the Austrian frontier in mid-September and Seibert said those have been successful — “but it is clear to all of us in Europe … that we need an overall European solution. The solution won’t be found at national borders between country A and country B.”

He renewed calls for “effective protection of our EU external borders.”

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12:40 p.m.

Czech President Milos Zeman, who is known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, says Egyptian fundamentalist group Muslim Brotherhood is likely to blame for the Europe migrant crisis.

Egypt’s government has branded the group a terrorist organization and outlawed it in 2013 after the military overthrew elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Zeman previously called the influx of the migrants who are fleeing war and poverty an “organized invasion” and in a Monday interview with Czech public radio he said: “I think that this invasion is organized by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Zeman says information he has received from the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Morocco that Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella organization for Islamic militants and that it wants to rule “the entire world” contributed to his conclusion.

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12:15 p.m.

Denmark has stepped up border controls at its southern boundary with Germany to stem the flow of migrants.

The move, announced Monday by Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, comes just hours after Sweden introduced ID checks for all passengers travelling by train from Denmark to Sweden.

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COPENHAGEN — Denmark on Monday tightened controls at its border with Germany just hours after neighbouring Sweden introduced similar measures to stem the flow of migrants.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmusssen told reporters in Copenhagen that as of noon Monday (1100 GMT, 6 a.m. EST), police were conducting spot checks on travellers crossing the border from Germany.

“We are introducing temporary border controls, but in a balanced way,” Loekke Rasmussen said, adding there would be no problem for “ordinary” Danes and Germans to cross the border.

It was the latest move by a European Union country to suspend an agreement to keep internal borders open after 1 million migrants entered the bloc in 2015.

“If the European Union cannot protect the external border you will see more and more countries forced to introduce temporary border controls,” the prime minister said.

He said the Danish move was in response to new ID checks introduced by Sweden on Monday for all passengers entering the country by train, bus or ferry.

To comply with the new Swedish rules, passengers had to show identification to board trains departing from Copenhagen Airport to Sweden across a bridge-and-tunnel link.

Danish officials have criticized the move and suggested Sweden should pay for the cost of the ID checks.

The Swedish government decided to tighten border controls after 160,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden last year _ the highest number in Europe except for Germany. Most of them were from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.