Denmark began on Tuesday to station 50 new customs agents on the country’s borders with Germany and Sweden, to implement the new “permanent border control” law that the parliament had passed on Friday by a single vote (90 to 89). The will perform spot checks on vehicles arriving from neighboring countries, according to the Copenhagen Post.
Danish customers officer inspects a vehicle on Tuesday on border with Germany. (Reuters)
The new law was demanded by the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party (DPP) and, according to DPP leader Pia Kjærsgaard, designed to keep out “criminals from Eastern Europe and illegal economic migrants,” according to CS Monitor.
As we wrote when the law was being considered (see “13-May-11 News — Europe’s immigration crisis strikes at heart of European Union”), this situation is considered to be a major crisis for Europe. The law appears to violate a 1995 agreement called the “Schengen Agreement,” signed by the EU nations, guaranteeing an “open border” policy among EU nations. The agreement to permit free travel between EU countries for the first time in history was considered to be of historical importance, and now that it’s being rolled back, there’s fear that the entire European project is being rolled back.
A German politician is infuriating Danes by suggesting that retaliate against Denmark for the law by boycotting Denmark in their vacation plans, according to Spiegel:
“If Denmark reintroduces border controls during the vacation season, I can only advise people to turn around and go on vacation in Austria or Poland. Freedom of travel is one of Europe’s most visible achievements. Those who assail it … are carving away at the European idea.”
Danish officials say that the purpose of the new law is to fight organized crime, human trafficking and the drugs trade, and so it does not contradict EU law. Danish customs officer Orla Olesen said: “Illegal immigrants aren’t our highest priority. The human-smuggler at the wheel with four immigrants is as interesting to us as a drunk driver, but of course we also then intervene.”
According to an analysis in Spiegel, right-wing nationalism is growing in Europe, and it’s possible that “Europe is crumbling”:
“But something has changed fundamentally since the 1990s. Europe’s nations are no longer ruled by dyed-in-the-wool champions of the European project like Helmut Kohl, François Mitterand or Felipe Gonzales, but by cool and calculating politicians like Angela Merkel or political egocentrics such as Nicolas Sarkozy. The main difference between these politicians and the right-wing populists is in ther methods: Whereas the populists openly proclaim their desire to exit the EU, the others are eliminating the political union bit by bit.”
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is exactly what happens in a generational Crisis era. The survivors of the previous crisis war (WW II) understand the dangers of xenophobia that lead to discrimination and harsh immigration laws. That’s why the Schengen agreement was so important to WW II survivors like like Helmut Kohl, François Mitterand or Felipe Gonzales. As the survivors of the previous crisis war retire and die off, the younger generations become more xenophobic again, and that leads to a new crisis war.
Europe isn’t the only place that this kind of anti-immigrant xenophobia is growing. According to an analysis last October in CS Monitor, countries around the world are pursuing tough immigration polices on a scale rarely seen in history. The article points to increasing anti-immigrant policies of one kind or another in Sweden, France, Britain, Netherlands and other countries.
According to the article, the most vociferous immigration debate anywhere is in America on the border with Mexico:
“The first reason is that the actual number of undocumented workers relative to the population is much higher [in the US] than in most European countries,” says Jonathan Chaloff, an analyst with the international migration division of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “The second reason is that the economic downturn has made it more of an issue. In European countries with large undocumented populations, there is a relatively high employment rate among the undocumented, and no perception of competition with natives, while in the US there’s a perception that the undocumented are not employed or are unfairly competing.”
The article also points out that: Just as Americans want Mexicans out, Mexicans, who might be tolerant of their country as a passageway north to the United States, have no patience with the undocumented Guatemalans and Hondurans increasingly falling short of their destinations.
Denmark’s new border controls are just one sign that anti-immigrant xenophobia is growing around the world, and it will continue to grow until it is resolved by a world war.