Monday

25th Mar 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Germany and Denmark seek to prolong border checks

Denmark and Germany have notified the EU commission of their intention to prolong internal border checks beyond the 12 November deadline when they are required to be lifted.

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership

Bucharest expects other member states to decide on its accession to the passport-free area before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019 - amid criticism of a controversial new justice reform.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us