Sweden tightens asylum rules to force EU action

STOCKHOLM Sweden will introduce tighter border controls and asylum rules in a bid to decrease the number of asylum seekers reaching the country, and force other EU nations to take in higher numbers of refugees, the government mentioned on Tuesday.

Sweden expects up to 190,000 asylum seekers to reach its borders this year and says its reception program cannot cope.

“The circumstance is untenable,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. “Now, to place it bluntly, more individuals will have to seek asylum and get protection in other European nations.”

The move is a massive blow to Swedes’ view of their nation as a humanitarian superpower and a team player in international organizations. Vice premier Asa Romson of the Green Party was close to tears at the news conference as she announced the tougher measures.

Lofven mentioned the new guidelines would be in force for three years and that Sweden’s asylum program needed “breathing space”.

Around 80,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Sweden more than the last two months and the Migration Agency said earlier in November it could no longer guarantee accommodation for all.

Some asylum seekers have been forced to sleep rough just as the freezing Swedish winter begins to bite.

Sweden introduced its 1st big-scale border controls in decades in November to slow down the flow of asylum seekers, but the move has had only a restricted effect.

In the final seven days, around eight,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, down slightly from about 10,000 a week earlier this month.

“It is clear that migration politics in the EU want to be fully reviewed,” Lofven stated.

He said the EU necessary a permanent method to evenly distribute asylum seekers across the 28-member bloc.

The government said it planned to widen the number of asylum seekers receiving short-term asylum.

Till the present crisis, all these granted asylum have been provided permanent residency. The government introduced temporary asylum earlier this month, but gave exceptions to children and households.

Now only asylum seekers coming to Sweden below international quota agreements will be given permanent asylum soon after the new guidelines are introduced, most likely in April next year.

In addition, the nation will introduce ID checks on all public transport into the nation from the continent and tighten guidelines for loved ones reunion.

(Reporting by Daniel Dickson and Simon Johnson)

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