Saturday

21st Oct 2017

EU proposes three-year internal border checks

  • Terrorism and security issues have provoked Schengen border code reforms. (Photo: Reuters)

Internal border checks are likely to continue for years given a new proposal by the European Commission to reform the so-called Schengen borders code.

EU home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told reporters on Wednesday (27 September) that the reforms were needed to address the evolving security threats in EU states.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The latest proposal included introducing a new article, 27a, into the code that would allow EU states to prolong checks for up to a maximum of three years.

"In the case of long lasting persistent more than one year security threat, an extraordinary possibility for prolonging border controls at internal borders, for another two years is foreseen," he said.

The EU commission is at pains to keep internal borders open in the Schengen passport-free area, while at the same time balancing government demands for more police checks and border stops.

Avramopoulos has in the past warned the end of Schengen would spell the end of the European Union, but border controls have been reintroduced and prolonged almost 50 times since September 2015, compared to only 36 such cases between 2006 and 2015.

The original plan was to have them lifted by the end of 2016, but the EU commission continues to grant extensions despite the vague reasons provided by EU states to justify them.

The EU commission plans to beef up oversight and increase procedural rules that impose greater demands on member states before they can launch the new-model checks.

But the latest proposal is unlikely to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, representing member states, before the 12 November deadline when the existing internal checks in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway must come to an end.

These checks were based on migratory flows, but the migratory pressure has eased fllowing the closure of the Western Balkan route.

The checks were also based on article 29 of the borders code, which imposed a two-year limit on them that expires on 12 November.

Instead, the five states will have to resort to another set of existing rules in the code, currently used by France, to impose the checks based on "threats to public policy and internal security".

Also known as article 25, the rules today grant an EU state the possibility to reintroduce controls for up to six months for "foreseeable circumstances."

The article has been invoked for major events like the football competitions or G-20 summits, but also for other terrorism-related security issues as in France on its border with Belgium.

Now, the EU commission wants to extend the six-month limit under article 25 to one year.

However, should the same threat to public policy or internal security extend beyond a year, then the new article 27a would allow a further prolongation of up to two years.

The two-year prolongation would only be allowed if the EU state carried out "commensurate national measures", for example, by imposing a state of emergency.

"This [two-year prolongation] can only happen on the basis of a recommendation by the Council, based on an opinion presented by the Commission," said Avramopoulos.

Earlier this year, EUobserver saw internal documents from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Norway that aimed to justify its border controls.

Some admitted there was no problem, while others offered scant data to support their arguments.

France, meanwhile, has been in a constant of state of emergency, not seen since the Algerian War of the 1960s, following the 2015 Paris attacks.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks