At the end of a two-day Nordic nations summit in Copenhagen Tuesday, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden announced that they would work together to deport illegal immigrants back to their country of origin as each country looks to tighten up their immigration policies.
In a statement, the Danish Immigration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said that the country's ministers established three initiatives that will help strengthen the cooperation between them.
The first is to cooperate between the Nordic migration and deployment organizations by meeting together and strengthening relationships with countries people will be returned to as well.
Next is to coordinate joint flights through Fronex from one of their countries to a third country where migrants from each country need to be returned.
Lastly, the ministers also agreed to assist stranded "irregular migrants" in North Africa by helping them get to their own countries. According to Reuters, irregular immigrants are often stranded in North Africa by the human smugglers that are tasked to get them to Europe.
Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said in a statement, "The Nordic countries have a common interest in foreigners without legal residence being sent home. We must prevent them from traveling across our countries and going under the radar of the authorities." He added, "Therefore, after a good meeting in Copenhagen, we have decided to strengthen the collaboration."
Bek noted, "In Denmark, we have come a long way and have succeeded in reducing the number of rejected asylum seekers in the position of secondment to under 500 people. A few years ago, the number was over 1,000 people."
While the United Nations and other human rights groups have criticized Denmark for tightening immigration policies over the last 10 years, those policies have become more popular among the other Nordic countries.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in a statement last month that the country is using the Danish model after "an irresponsible immigration policy and a failed integration" has led to increased gang violence.
"The Swedish government is truly looking at how the Danish government has worked with both fighting organized crime but also on migration issues," Sweden's Minister of Migration, Maria Malmer Stenergard said at the conference.
Speaking about the new immigration effort, Finnish Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen said, "This cooperation will be supporting our governmental program because it's very concentrated on immigration rules and the returns especially, which have been the weak link in our system."