Denmark has suspended all rail links with Germany after police stopped hundreds of migrants at the border. Danish police also closed a motorway between the two countries when some asylum seekers began walking north after being forced off a train. They say their destination is Sweden.
As the EU struggles with a major migrant crisis, the European Commission has proposed that 120,000 additional asylum seekers should be shared out between members, using binding quotas.
Denmark’s DSB rail operator said trains to and from Germany had been suspended for an indefinite period because of exceptional passport checks.
Two trains carrying more than 200 migrants are being held in Rodby, a major port with ferry links to Germany. Danish police say many migrants are refusing to leave the trains because they do not want to be registered in Denmark.
Police also closed part of the E45 motorway – the main road link between Germany and Denmark – after about 300 migrants left another train and set off on foot towards Sweden near the border town of Padborg.
Sweden has become a top destination for refugees after it promised to issue residency papers to all Syrian asylum seekers. Denmark’s new centre-right government has promised to get tough on immigration.
Since its election in June it has slashed benefits for new arrivals and restricted the right to residency. About 3,000 migrants have entered the country since the weekend. Prime Minister Lars Lokke-Rasmussen said Denmark was under pressure as asylum seekers arrive on their way to Sweden.
“This clearly shows that what we are facing right now is not only a refugee problem, it is also a migration problem,” he said. A surge of migrants fleeing conflict and hardship in Africa and the Middle East has pushed north through Europe over the past few weeks.
Many of those escaping the civil war in Syria have travelled from Turkey across the sea to Greece, through Macedonia and Serbia, and then to Hungary from where they aim to reach northern Europe.
On Wednesday European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans for a “swift, determined and comprehensive” response through a quota system.
In a “state of the union” annual address, he said tackling the crisis was “a matter of humanity and human dignity”. “It’s 160,000 refugees in total that Europeans have to take into their arms and I really hope that this time everyone will be on board,” Mr Juncker told the European Parliament. The new plans would relocate 60% of those now in Italy, Greece and Hungary to Germany, France and Spain.
The numbers allocated to each country would depend on GDP, population, unemployment rate and asylum applications already processed. Countries refusing to take in migrants could face financial penalties.
Thursday, 10 September, 2015 at 03:18 (03:18 AM) UTC RSOE