Sunday

26th Sep 2021

EU reluctant to extend Schengen border checks

  • 'Our political position is very clear,' says EU migration commissioner Avramopoulos (Photo: European Union)

The EU commission has no appetite to allow continued internal border checks in Austria, Denmark, and Germany.

All three member states want to continue the controls, despite a mid-November deadline to lift them.

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

Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration, told reporters on Thursday (13 October) that they'll assess the requests once received, but warned against prolonged checks.

"We are not going to have for long periods the reintroduction of border controls and all member states are aware of that," he said in Luxembourg following a meeting of interior ministers.

"Our political position is very clear, we have to go back to Schengen and all member states must understand that.”

But Austria's interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka said the extensions are likely necessary.

"I think it will probably be necessary to have an extension or we have to think of other steps," he said.

Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, made similar remarks and Denmark's prime minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen in September already announced plans to continue the internal border checks.

Such demands will likely clash with broader EU commission plans to remove all internal checks throughout the passport-free Schengen zone, which covers 23 EU states and Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, before the end of year.

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden had imposed the controls in an effort to slow the movement of migrants and refugees entering through Greece last year.

Both Austria and Germany launched the controls in mid-May followed by Denmark in June.

Those checks are allowed to remain in place for six months but only as a response to "a serious threat and to safeguard public policy and internal security."

The same six-month checks can continue for up to two years.

Germany begun the checks along its Austria border, Austria then did the same along Slovenia and Hungary, Denmark followed at its German border.

Slovakia's interior minister Robert Kalinak, speaking on the behalf of the EU presidency, said security, not politics, would decide on whether to continue the internal border controls.

The launch of the new European border and coast guard agency is likely to factor into the EU commission's decision-making when assessing the requests.

The extension demands also coincides with an unannounced visit from the EU commission in Austria this week to verify if they properly follow EU border rules.

Opinion

Why Schengen deserves to be saved

Far-right parties around Europe have managed to turn the passport-free Schengen area into a game of political hot potato despite its numerous benefits.

EU extends internal border checks

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Norway granted three-month extensions on border controls despite fall in migrant numbers.

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".

News in Brief

  1. Italy arrests Puigdemont on Spanish warrant
  2. EU and US hold trade talks despite French wrath
  3. EMA to decide on Pfizer vaccine booster in October
  4. EU welcomes Polish TV-station move
  5. Ukrainian parliament passes law to curb power of oligarchs
  6. EU could force Poland to pay lignite-coal fine
  7. Report: EU and US concerned by tech-giants' power
  8. EU states sign 'transparency pledge'

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 MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us