Once liberal asylum policy: Change of asylum course in Sweden: Why Löfven no longer wants to accept refugees
While Germany wants to take in around 1,500 refugees from the Greek islands, Sweden seems to be pursuing a change of course in migration policy. Sweden was seen as a country with a very liberal asylum policy.
More than 160,000 initial asylum applications by refugees and migrants were made in Sweden in 2015 alone. The poorly populated country bore a significant part of the burden in the crisis of that time and was proud of its open and liberal attitude. “My Europe is not building walls,” said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the time.
Sweden is closing
However, in the past few weeks it has been shown that the Scandinavians’ asylum policy has changed. While Germany, after the fire in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, has agreed to take in 150 unaccompanied minors as well as more than 1,500 other refugees from five Greek islands, Sweden is closing down. The government in Stockholm sends aid, but does not want to take in people.
The politics of Northern Europeans suddenly resembles the traditionally anti-immigrant attitude of Eastern Europeans more than that of countries like Germany. What’s behind it?
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven gave an answer a few days ago in the Swedish parliament. When asked by a right-wing populist MP whether he saw a connection between more refugees and increasing crime, Löfven replied, according to a report by Die Welt: “If migration is so strong that integration is no longer successful, we also risk more problems with it Kind of get it. That’s crystal clear. “
Gang crime worries Sweden
It is an astonishing note for a social democratic politician who also governs in a coalition with the Greens. According to media reports, Sweden is facing increasing gang crime, especially in socially disadvantaged suburbs. So far this year 27 people have been killed in shootings, almost all of them were young male gang members, reports the “Frankfurter Rundschau”.
The newspaper also reports that there is a dramatic increase in clan crime, and that Vice-Police Chief MatsLöfvings spoke of a “system threat”. The efforts in the fight against the gang crime groups fail. According to data from Swedish sociologist Göran Adamson, 58 percent of the offenders suspected in 2017 were migrants.
Löfven: “Social tensions” due to failed migration
Prime Minister Löfven said in a TV interview: “If you have a migration on a scale that integration no longer works, it is clear that you get social tension in society and that is not good.” Löfven’s statements seem to be based on the realization that mistakes have been made in the integration efforts of recent years.
But it is also clear that the head of government is under increasing political pressure. Christian Democrats and Conservatives seem to be able to identify more and more with the asylum policy of the populist Sweden Democrats. They are based on the Danish model, where very tough action is taken against gang crime. The Social Democrat Löfven seems to give in to this pressure from the right political direction, at least in part.
The Scandinavian expert Bernd Parusel criticized the line of the Swedish government in an interview with FOCUS Online; he considers this to be “simplified”. The social problems in Sweden have existed for years or even decades. “If you blame them solely on immigration and the integration policy of the last few years, you will hardly be able to solve them,” says the political scientist, who is employed as an expert on Sweden in the European Migration Network (EMN).
From the point of view of the experts, the problems could be solved by creating the conditions for integration to succeed. Specifically, more affordable apartments are needed to resolve the housing shortage. Education policy must also ensure that weaker groups have a chance of a good education and can gain a foothold in the labor market – especially if they come from disadvantaged areas. In suburbs and neighborhoods where crime is a problem, the police presence needs to be increased.
Expert: Sweden’s attitude “can seem strange”
The expert also emphasizes that the integration of migrants and refugees in Sweden has by no means failed everywhere. Current data show that refugees who have immigrated since 2014 found jobs faster than generations before. The state has invested a lot to accelerate integration into the labor market. Among other things, they rely on language courses, qualifications and training, individual integration plans and state-sponsored jobs. “Some labor market sectors would no longer function at all if there had been no immigration, for example care for the elderly,” says the Scandinavia expert.
Solidarity is now urgently needed, says the expert. But Sweden is against a redistribution of asylum seekers from Greece. This could “seem strange,” says Parusel. He is certain that the one-off admission of a limited number of asylum seekers from Greece “cannot play a role in the success of integration”.
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