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European officials find Denmark borders without officials

Visit was aimed at checking new custom controls
15th July 2011: A deputation of European officials visiting Denmark’s controversial border controls on Thursday found no sign of the customs officers deployed earlier this month.

The Ritzau news agency reported that the first stop on the European Commission’s working group was on the Oresund bridge linking Denmark with Sweden, but Danish customs officers were noticeable by their non attendance.

The director for migration and borders at the Commission’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs Belinda Pyke said they chose to come on a day that suited the authorities.

Pyke added: “We understand that they have a control system that is not public, and we do not want to have such controls carried out artificially. We have no need to make a big thing of it. We want to understand how the system functions,"

She elaborated the working group’s visit was part of a continued dialogue with the Danish government about how the new customs controls were being implemented.

The agency reported that the delegation was set to travel next to the Danish-German border crossing at Froeslev in southern Denmark. Denmark deployed 50 new customs officers at its borders with Germany and Sweden on July 5. This was a controversial measure hammered out under pressure from its far-right ally which drew critics from Brussels and its neighbouring countries.

The Scandinavian country argues random border checks are in line with the Schengen passport-free travel area and that their aim is to oppose the smuggling of illegal goods and drugs, not to control travellers.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, said it would closely observe the deployment to ensure it did not violate the European Union’s open border rules.

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