When it opened 15 years ago, the Öresund Bridge was seen as a glistening symbol of the new Europe
Sweden and Denmark had been joined together by a motorway with no border controls, fusing together economies and even blurring national identities. Many Swedes in Malmö have come to relish the city’s growing reputation as a suburb of Copenhagen, just half an hour away by train. It seemed to embody many dreams about the future: a continent where national borders would come to mean nothing.
Sweden’s open border dream was shattered at noon today.
After months of fretting, police finally introduced border controls on the Swedish side of the bridge: the latest symbol of Europe’s unravelling free movement project. There are many others: the razor wire separating Slovenia from Croatia; the border patrols on trains between Germany and Austria.
This has been painful for everyone, but devastating for Sweden because its main political parties barely know how to respond. Openness is the closest thing the Swedes have to a national religion, this policy is visibly failing – and there is no back-up plan.
The headlines now suggest a country that is coming apart. Just last month, an asylum centre in the picturesque town of Munkedal was set alight, the latest in a series of arson attacks against refugees. Anti-Semitic incidents in Malmö have raised such concern that Swedes have now started “kippa walks”, gathering in their hundreds to accompany Jews home from the synagogue in a show of solidarity. The Sweden Democrats, a party routinely denounced by Swedish media as “neo-fascist”, is now leading in the national opinion polls. Economically, Sweden remains strong. But politically, it’s in crisis. source