Under the headline “Business leaders bemoan closed borders”, DECC in its newsletter of 4 July 2011 quoted an article in Copenhagen Post that calls for some clarifications. The Danish agreement on strengthened customs control passed by the Danish Parliament on 1 July has been debated in the European press but unfortunately with several misunderstandings. For instance with the claim that the agreement is not in conformity with the Schengen rules on freedom of movement within the EU; or that Denmark is about to leave the Schengen cooperation. Nothing could be more wrong. It is clearly stipulated in the agreement that it must be in full compliance with the Schengen rules and as it is gradually implemented (it will only be fully implemented by the beginning of 2014) the Danish government is in dialogue with the European Commission to ensure this. The Commission’s visit to Denmark on 14-15 July was part of this good and constructive dialogue that will continue.
Denmark believes in close and open relations with our neighbouring countries, in free trade and in European cooperation. A few people abuse this openness for border-crossing crime which unfortunately is a growing problem for us all. That is why all Schengen and EU countries still have customs officers deployed to combat trafficking of illegal goods and items such as drugs, weapons, explosives, falsified medicine and illegal and dangerous waste. In the last few years, Denmark has actually had fewer customs officers employed than many of our neighbouring countries. The new, extra customs officers will only reinforce the classical customs control which already is done today at and behind the borders and will do so with the same methods and based on threat and risk analyses as today. No control of persons or passports is foreseen. There will be no systematic or general control of all vehicles or trains crossing the border, just as we will ensure that customs officers have enough resources to avoid new waiting lines. Anyone visiting Denmark will continue to experience that the traffic flows gently across the Danish borders. In the interest of us all and of European cooperation we need to combat crime. But Denmark is still fully open to all visitors – and open for business.