IT IS easy to find a Swede in central Copenhagen nowadays.

About 9,000 Swedish workers commute every day to jobs in the bustling Danish capital, crossing the narrow strait that separates the two countries. Since the opening of the 8km (5-mile) Oresund Bridge in 2000, indeed, their cross-border journey to work has been quicker than the daily commute of many workers in London or New York. But that is changing. On January 4th Sweden introduced border controls on the bridge as part of an effort to curb an influx of Middle Eastern asylum-seekers. Businesses warn that the border checks will upset decades of planned integration between Copenhagen and Malmo, the Swedish city on the far side of the bridge.

At Magasin du Nord, a glitzy Copenhagen department store, there are dozens of Swedish staff members who make the trip every day. They include Madeleine and Sandra, two young sales assistants in the store’s cosmetics department, who like many Swedes are pleased with Denmark’s high salaries. The strong Danish krone helps, making prices about 10% higher than in Sweden, according to Eurostat figures. The Danish are pleased with the Swedes, too: many say their arrival has made Copenhagen a friendlier place. Transactions in shops in the Danish capital are often conducted in stony silence, from keying in credit-card numbers to packing the goods in carrier bags. In Sweden, by contrast, sales assistants may refuse to provide service until they are acknowledged with a hello.

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