Sweden said Tuesday it would drastically tighten its asylum rules in a bid to stem the flow of migrants coming to the country, putting its rules on a par with the EU’s minimum regulations.
“It pains me to say that Sweden can no longer take in asylum seekers at the same high level … Sweden needs some breathing room,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters.
“Swedish laws will be adapted to the European Union’s minimal level” for three years, he said.
“We need to relieve the pressure (on the Swedish asylum system) so that more people seek asylum in other European countries,” he added, calling Sweden’s situation “untenable”.
The Scandinavian country of 9.8 million people received 80,000 asylum applications in the past two months, which would be the equivalent of 25 million asylum seekers for the entire EU, Lofven said.
Since October, the left-wing government has introduced several measures to reduce the number of asylum seekers, including reinstating border controls.
But judging those measures ineffective, the government said it would now go even further, by stepping up border controls and tightening rules for family reunifications.
In addition, residency permits will be temporary with only some rare exceptions and medical checks will be conducted to determine the age of youths seeking asylum.
According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the number of migrants arriving dropped by 30 per cent after the country reinstated border controls on November 12.
Sweden said in October it expected up to 190,000 asylum seekers this year and 170,000 next year, making it the EU country with the most migrant arrivals per capita.