Denmark Approves Controversial Plan for Fence on Germany Border
Denmark has approved a plan to erect a fence on its border with Germany to keep out swine fever but critics argue that is a symbolic gesture epitomizing anti-immigrant sentiments.
Denmark’s government gave greenlight to the building of the 68-kilometer (42-mile) fence on the border with fellow EU member state Germany.
The project is worth EUR 11 million, and is supposed to protect the large Danish pork industry from wild boar that might carry African swine fever, DW reports.
The Danish-German border fence will be 1.5 meters tall and half-meter deep, and will run from one coast of the Jutland Peninsula to the other, that is, from the Wadden Sea in the west to the Flensburg Fjord in the east.
The fence project, which is supposed to be completed by the end of 2019, has been criticized by environmentalists over its potential ramifications for the ecosystem.
Some critics, however, see a deep political meaning in it, a symbolic gesture towards the Danish anti-immigration right-wingers from the populist Danish People’s Party.
The fence on the border with Germany was approved by the Danish Parliament in June with the support of the center-right government, the right-wing populists, and the Social Democrats, and Denmark’s Environment Ministry gave final approval to the project on Monday following public consultations.
Denmark’s 5,000 pig farms export about 28 million pigs per year comprising half of the country’s agricultural exports and 5% of all exports, according to the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.
Thus, the Danish-German border fence has been touted by its proponents as a means of stopping a possible influx of the swine flu virus, which has been found EU member states Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
No cases of the swine fever virus, which affects pigs only, however, have been discovered in Germany.
Environmental groups worry that the fence would hamper the migration of wild animals and birds such as deer, wolves, otters, foxes, golden jackals and cranes, some of which are protected by EU and Danish legislation.
“We know from experiences around the world that physical barriers such as a fence impact animal migration,” Thor Hjarsen, senior biologists at World Wildlife Foundation in Denmark, is quoted as saying.
The efficiency of the proposed border fence against swine fever has also been questioned.
“The problem with the fence is that there is no documentation that it works. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence it won’t work,” says Hans Kristensen, a hunter, wildlife author and expert on wild boar migration who points out that the wild boar can swim across the Flensburg fjord, and thus cross between Germany and Denmark anyway.
Political motives behind the Danish border fence are suspected, with the government possibly approving the project to appease the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party, the second-largest party in Denmark’s Parliament.
Politicians from the DPP have in the past suggested erecting a tall, barbed-wire fence with motion detectors along the German border as Europe has witnessed an influx of migrants in recent years.
“You won’t see anyone admit it, but one reason why the fence could get votes in parliament was because of the right-wing in Denmark. The fence won’t keep wild boar out and it won’t keep migrants out, but the symbolic value is immense for the right wing,” ,” Kristensen said.
A recent ban of full-face Islamic veils in Denmark has also been associated with the influence of the Danish People’s Party.
(Banner image: DW)