Now that some of the smoke has cleared after the latest Battle of
Dybbøl Kruså it may be time for some observations about the entire story:
1. That the Danish People’s Party would want “something” related to law and order and/or immigration in return for its support for a reform of the Early Retirement Benefit was expected. If we had been better aware of DPP’s own propaganda, we would have known that border controls were on the agenda.
2. Police, customs officers and reseachers tell us that border controls are not the most effective means of stopping smuggling and other forms of crime. This inevitably raises the issue of symbolic politics. We know that the DPP wants Denmark to leave the Schengen Agreement (which it can do unilaterally) while the Liberals and Conservatives are being deliberately unclear about the issue (see also #4)
3. Trying to gauge the level of controls is not easy. The agreement document talks about “permanent and visible” controls as well as “targeting of suspicious individuals” but what is actually meant is still difficult to assess even for a seasoned reader of political documents like yours truly.
4. Political scientists have been yakking about “multilevel governance in the EU” for a decade and more. That the border controls were decided without any serious reference to the EU or even the Swedish and German government raises a number of issues: Did the Danish government deliberately omit contacting the EU, Sweden and Germany (the exclusion of the Foreign Office would point in this direction) or was this an oversight due to the speed of the negotiations. In any event, the lack of understanding of the international/EU dimension among politicians and commentators in relation to this issue is significant. Note also the very superficial coverage of the EU in the prime minister’s speech at the closing debate of the 2010/11 parliamentary year.
5. It is reasonable to assume that the German government is not particularly interested in the relations with Denmark per se (case in point: The lack of German interest in the Fehmer Belt conncetion – Denmark is not an economically important partner for Germany), but the Danish reintroduction of border controls (or whatever) linked with the role played by the DPP raises the specre of governments appeasing populist sentiments and parties (France, Poland, Netherlands, Finland) by withdrawing from EU commitments.
6. Whether by design or accident, the DPP’s ability to conquer the political agenda remains impressive. This episode still may not have a major impact on the coming election campaign, though, even if Pia Kjærsgaard (as the only speaker) did make the EU and border controls the main topic of her speech at the Folketing’s closing debate.
7. The entire Marlene Wind story would demand a separate post. Let me just say that there are things to discuss both in general and in relation to the specific issue.