Germany opposes Danish new border controls
(BERLIN) - Germany on Wednesday strongly criticised neighbouring Denmark for its move to reintroduce permanent customs controls at its borders, calling the move "unjustified".
The European Union has also spoken out against Denmark's bid to reinforce controls at its borders with Germany and Sweden and the European Commission is probing whether the move may violate the Schengen free travel agreement, to which Denmark is a signatory.
"There isn't the slightest reason, at this time, to build a new Danish border control system which has raised grave doubts over compatibility with the Schengen treaty with both the European Commission and the German government," German deputy foreign minister Werner Hoyer said in a statement.
"It is incomprehensible that action should be taken on the ground before the European Commission had made up its mind" on the matter, Hoyer added.
A Danish foreign ministry official who asked not to be named told AFP Wednesday he had not seen Hoyer's comments but stressed that Denmark remained committed to "remaining within the boundaries of the Schengen agreement."
"We are implementing this in close consultation with the European Commission, and we intend fully to respect Schengen," he insisted.
Denmark, which deployed 50 new customs officers at its borders with Germany and Sweden on July 5, argues that the random border checks only aim to combat the smuggling of illegal goods and drugs, not to control travellers.
The Schengen agreement cannot be breached "under the cloak of a justifiable wish of wanting to fight criminality more efficiently," Hoyer said.
In late June, EU nations tasked Brussels with setting down criteria under which Schengen members could resume border checks in the event of a spike in migration such as that seen in France, Italy and Malta since the Arab Spring.
The European Commission is to deliver its findings in September.
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