Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

EU internal border checks to stay in place

The European Commission on Wednesday (5 May) backed extending internal border checks for six months in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

The Brussels executive says the move is triggered by ongoing border security issues in Greece, which pose a broader threat to the passport-free Schengen zone.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"As long as serious deficiencies in [Greece's] border management persist some internal border control measures should be maintained," said EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans.

The commission says Greece is still unable to carry out surveillance in the Aegean without the help from others. It also notes Greece doesn't register incoming asylum seekers along its land borders.

Speaking alongside him at a press conference in Brussels, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the plan was to lift all the internal checks by the end of year.

"By the end of this year, the Schengen zone will be formally normalised," said Avramopoulos.

Greek authorities earlier this year refuted the border criticism after the EU commission said Athens "had seriously neglected its obligations".

Greece is struggling with thousands of people stranded inside its territory after EU states failed to relocate them as promised last September.

The country is also grappling with EU bailout-imposed wage and pension cuts and huge unemployment.

The internal border shut downs were provoked, in part, by the some 1 million migrants that arrived last year in the EU.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has also been blamed for attracting the exodus after she announced an open door policy for Syrian refugees last August.

Merkel's move provoked a political rift with her fiercest domestic critic, Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer.

Germany imposed a 10-day control at its Austrian border in September. It was then extended by 20 days and then again for another 20 days.

EU rules allow for border checks for six months, but they can be extended to two years if EU institutions determine that gaps at the external frontiers pose an existential threat to Schengen.

Germany's border deadline is May, coinciding with the EU commission's decision on 4 May to extend the checks for another six months.

Austria, Norway, and Sweden’s border checks were also set to expire in May.

Imposing internal border checks has raised fears about the future of free movement within the EU.

The commission estimates that setting up internal barriers everywhere in the EU would cost some €18 billion annually to its economy.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

News in Brief

  1. Ukraine eyes end of EU gas transit from 2024
  2. France says ready to talk about migrants if UK serious
  3. Latvia calls for permanent US troops to guard against Russia
  4. OPCW members urge Russia to come clean on Navalny
  5. Japan bars foreign arrivals as omicron spreads
  6. US to expel 54 more Russian diplomats, Moscow says
  7. Chinese president promises Africa one billion Covid vaccines
  8. Andersson elected as Swedish PM for second time in one week

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  2. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says
  3. Pesticides 'cost double the amount they yield', study finds
  4. Scholz's first job? Work with Poland on Belarus crisis
  5. Why Is Italy struggling to convert its anti-vaxxers?
  6. Consultancies pocketing EU millions prompts MEP grilling
  7. Russian mercenaries using EU-trained soldiers in Africa
  8. EUobserver wins right to keep VIP-jet story online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us