Friday

20th Jan 2017

EU extends internal border controls

  • Out of 3 million checked by Sweden, only 640 were prevented from entering the country. (Photo: News Oresund)

EU states backed extending internal border checks for three months in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

The move was formally approved on Friday (11 November) by the EU council, representing member states.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The European Commission had recommended the extension in late October, following demands from the respective capitals over broader fears that refugees and asylum seekers in Italy and Greece may attempt to settle in the countries.

The closed border along the Western Balkan route earlier this year and a migrant swap deal with Turkey has seen migratory flows into greater Europe drop. Italy has also imposed stiff border checks along the Brenner Pass with Austria, a major transit route into Germany.

Fears prevail, as all five states seek to maintain controls initially imposed in May.

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

Facts and figures

But, of the some 3 million people screened by Swedish authorities from June until the end of August only 640 were refused entry.

Norway refused only 14 people between May and September.

Austria stopped entry of 233 between May and August and Germany over 3,000 from mid-May until the end of July.

Denmark said it had refused entry of just over 1,000 people from May until September, out of some 1 million people screened.

The frequency of the checks, location, and time varies.

Despite the relative low refusal rates, the commission has described the internal border checks as proportionate.

All five are part of the Schengen border-free zone, which spans 26 countries throughout Europe.

It means Austria will continue to impose checks along its border with Hungary and Germany with Austria.

Denmark will carry out land border and ferry port checks with Germany, while Sweden will maintain checks at Oresund bridge with Denmark, and Norway will oversee ferry connections to Denmark, Germany, and Sweden.

The commission had previously said such internal controls would be removed before the end of the year to restore "a normally functioning Schengen."

But Robert Kalinak, the Slovak interior minister speaking on behalf of his country's EU presidency, now says the controls will be lifted when possible.

"Although we are not there yet, the situation is improving. The prolongation will, therefore, be for three months only, and there will be more intensive reporting obligations compared to the previous period," he said in a statement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey