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Denmark to roll back border control bid: new PM

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(COPENHAGEN) - Denmark's new prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said Monday her centre-left government would roll back a controversial decision by its predecessor to introduce permanent customs controls at Danish borders.

"The former government's decision on borders is to be stopped," Thorning-Schmidt said at her first news conference as prime minister, where she presented her three-party coalition government's platform.

"The plans from May 2011 to construct new control facilities at Danish borders will not be carried out," her programme stated.

The decision by the previous centre-left government, under pressure from its far-right, anti-immigration parliamentary ally the Danish People's Party, has been met with harsh criticism from the European Commission and Germany, cautioning the move could violate the open-border Schengen Agreement.

The plan was to have been introduced in three phases, adding 98 extra customs officers to the Danish border control regime by January 1, 2012, with 50 officers already deployed.

A final phase to construct permanent control facilities was slated to be in place in early 2014.

As expected, the new centre-left government cast aside that plan, saying instead it "will work to effectively combat cross-border crime within the Schengen cooperation."

"In cooperation with our neighbours, Denmark will carry out an effective customs control based on a mobile, flexible and intelligence-based effort in keeping with the common rules in effect in the EU," the government programme said.

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