Increased border control is one of the primary demands the Danish People’s Party (DF) will place on a right-wing government, regardless of whether DF itself formally joins a coalition or ends up as a key support party.
See also: DF considers new role in government
While presumed incoming PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Venstre party isn’t on the same page as DF when it comes to ratcheting up border controls, the party bowed to similar DF demands in 2011 and now border-area mayors, national business leaders, and regional tourist groups are warning against doing it again.
The mayor of Sønderborg Municipality, a coastal community located just north of Germany, warned that reinstating border checkpoints would damage relations with Denmark’s southern neighbour.
“It is the totally wrong signal to send to our surroundings. There are many of us who have put in a lot of work to develop a good relationship with Germany,” Mayor Erik Lauritzen, a Social Democrat, told Ritzau.
See also: Danish town is German no more
His counterpart in neighbouring Aabenraa Municipality echoed those sentiments despite being from the other side of the political aisle.
“[Border controls] would be far too bothersome for the traffic that goes over the border. We are pleased with, and proud of, the open traffic over the border,” Aabenraa’s mayor, Thomas Andreasen of Venstre, told Ritzau.
The two souther Denmark mayors are far from the only ones sounding the alarm over granting DF’s border control demand.
The head of regional tourist organization Destination Southern Jutland (Visit Sønderjylland) said he “doesn’t dare to think about what would happen” to the area’s annual 1.5 million overnight stays by German tourists if border controls are implemented.
“It will create long queues at the border and it will certainly affect Germans’ travel habits,” Karsten Justesen told Ritzau.
“We would prefer not to see increased border controls. It would be a very bad signal to send when viewed in a tourism context,” he added.
The Confederation of Danish Industries (Dansk Industri – DI) and the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv) are also worried about the signals Denmark will send if DF gets its way.
“We [would] send a signal that we are more closed rather than a signal that we are open. And that is the wrong way to go. Denmark is a member of the EU and we can just begin rolling things back,” DI’s CEO Karsten Dybvad told Politiken.
At the Chamber of Commerce, CEO Jens Klarskov said Denmark’s reputation – and its business relations – would be damaged by implementing border controls.
“We will be viewed as a country that has closed in on itself. And every step toward limiting our international orientation can prove unfortunate for business – and thus also for the Danish economy,” Klarskov told Politiken.
DF MEP Morten Messerschmidt, who has called the party’s border control demands “absolute”, said the expressed concerns amount to “professional mourning”.
“Those business leaders there should come out of their glass places and their villas in Hellerup [a wealthy Copenhagen suburb, ed.] and discover what the reality is out there [by the borders, ed.]. And the reality is that many, many Danes are bothered every day primarily eastern European thieves and beggars and whatever else. That is the problem that we need to address,” Messerschmidt told Politiken.
Messerschmidt said that DF would press for the reestablishment of the short-lived 2011 border controls, which were dropped when Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s centre-left government came to power.