Fortress Europe Looms as EU Countries Implement Heightened Border Controls

After the governments of both Sweden and Denmark announced Monday new border controls to stem the flow of migrants and refugees, fear is spreading across Europe that the continent’s landmark open border policy will soon be nothing but a dream.

In an attempt to halt the tide of migration at its southern border, Sweden imposed new identity checks for travelers arriving from Denmark, marking the first time since the 1950s that travelers between the two Scandinavian states face such restrictions.

In turn, the government of Denmark, fearful that the new Swedish checks would cause asylum seekers to flock to its borders, swiftly announced the immediate implementation of random checks at its border with Germany.

“We are simply reacting to a decision made in Sweden,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. “This is not a happy moment at all.”

Across Europe there is growing concern that the 26-nation passport-free Schengen Zone is at risk as the dueling crises of war and global warming are driving an unprecedented number of refugees to Europe and elsewhere. Meanwhile, growing xenophobia across the continent in the wake of the Paris attacks has bolstered efforts to shore up previously open borders.

“Freedom of movement is an important principle—one of the biggest achievements (in the European Union) in recent years,” German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters on Monday. “Schengen is very important but it is in danger,” he said.