December 3, 2015 / 3:33 PM / 3 years ago

Sweden readies emergency option of closing bridge to Denmark

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish government is preparing a proposal that would make it possible on security grounds to halt road traffic across the Oresund bridge to Denmark as the Nordic country struggles to come to grips with a record influx of asylum seekers.

A group of migrants, coming off an incoming train, are seen next to police on the platform at the Swedish end of the bridge between Sweden and Denmark, in Hyllie district, Malmo November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stig-Ake Jonsson/TT News Agency

The proposal, not yet finalised, would be part of legislation requiring identity checks on all public transportation to Sweden in a bid to cut the number of asylum seekers, a spokeswoman for the infrastructure minister said.

It would include giving the government the option of temporarily closing road traffic over the bridge - but not trains - and other roads into Sweden, spokeswoman Elin Tibell said.

The Oresund bridge, linking Denmark’s capital Copenhagen with Sweden’s third largest city Malmo, is extensively used by commuters as well as for freight traffic. Around 20,000 motor vehicles cross it every day.

Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson told local news agency TT that closing the bridge would be a very dramatic measure and would only be used in an emergency.

“Our intent and our hope is that we will not have to use this legal possibility,” Johansson was quoted as saying.

Sweden, with a population of around 9.6 million people, has proposed a number of changes to tighten asylum rules after the Migration Agency said it expects up to 190,000 asylum seekers this year.

Reporting by Daniel Dickson; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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