Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

EU states push for two-year border controls

  • Border controls on travellers in Europe might stay for two years (Photo: Paolo Margari)

EU member states have asked the EU Commission to prepare for measures that allow member states to prolong temporary border controls to up to two years.

“Member states invited the European Commission to prepare the legal and practical basis for the continuance of temporary border measures through Article 26 of the Schengen code,” Dutch minister for migration Klaas Dijkhoff told journalists after the informal meeting of EU home affairs ministers in Amsterdam on Monday (25 January).

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.

For now, the six member states that have introduced temporary border controls, including Germany and Austria, can do so for up to six months.

But under the Article 26 procedure, controls can be prolonged for up to two years if a member state struggles with “persistent serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border control” that place “risks” on the overall functioning of the area.

If a commission evaluation concludes that there are systemic problems in Greece, it could allow member states to reintroduce or maintain border controls.

Greece would have three months - until May, when the six-month period for temporary border controls expires - to come up with solutions.

'Protect Schengen'

If those are found to be insufficient, the member states can activate by qualified majority the procedure allowing the prolongation of border controls, with a review every six months.

“Our objective is how to protect Schengen,” said EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Besides putting extra pressure on Greece, which has struggled to control the influx of migrants into Europe, the procedure is an effort to put individual member states’ unilateral measures to introduce border controls under an EU framework.

“The member states clearly discussed Article 26 not in the context of pushing a country out, but in the context of keeping the others in with their temporary national measures,” Dijkhoff said at the press conference, referring to Greece, which has been threatened previously with suspension from Schengen.

“The current, existing deadlines to stop are not long enough to have the crisis resolved and having the countries disband their measures."

He admitted, however, that discussions over Article 26 would "not have directly have an effect on refugees".

He said measures such as relocation, resettlement, establishment of hotspots and getting better results out of the deal with Turkey were still the policies aimed at stemming the flow of migrants.

Sources refused to speculate on whether the commission’s assessment would be ready by the European Council meeting in mid-February. The report will not be made public for security reasons.

Macedonia to get help

The ministers also gave a “clear signal” to the EU Commission to explore how Frontex, the EU’s border agency, could do more to help Macedonia, which is north of Greece, on the migration route.

Frontex staff cannot be placed in a non-EU country under the current framework, so the focus will be on financial and other assistance.

EU officials highlight however that EU member states can send help on a bilateral basis to the Macedonian-Greek border, which some countries are already doing.

The ministers also discussed the commission’s recent proposal for a European border and coastal guard, which received support from a majority of member states.

A part of the proposal that suggested giving the EU power intervene at borders where there is an emergency situation even if the member state concerned does not give its consent was given a lukewarm reception.

Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Poland and Cyprus all expressed reservations, according to a source.

The member states wanted to maintain the power to decide on interventions, which in the original proposal would have been passed to the commission.

Greece rejects Schengen threats as 'blame game'

Greek officials reject mounting EU criticism of their leaky borders as a "blame game ... punishment," amid calls to expel Greece from the passport-free Schengen area.

Greece risks Schengen expulsion

Austria's interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, wants Greece booted out of the passport-free Schengen zone unless it secures its, and the EU's, external borders.

New EU border force: 'right to intervene'

New EU border force, to be proposed Tuesday, would have “right to intervene” if member states fail to protect external boundaries, a draft text, seen by EUobserver, says.

Analysis

EU mantra of 'solidarity' lost on asylum

Two years after EU leaders made big promises on migration, following the Lampedusa tragedy, and their words still mean almost nothing in practice.

Most asylum seekers ineligible, EU commissioner says

EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, citing an unpublished report by the EU border agency Frontex, says most people coming to EU are not from countries which qualify them for asylum.

Greece 'seriously neglected' border controls, says EU

The European Commission has accused Greece of "seriously neglecting its obligations" to manage its frontiers amid broader threats to extend border controls in the Schengen area to two years.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission