Tuesday

4th Oct 2022

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

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

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.

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.

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.

EU adding Bahamas to tax-haven blacklist

The EU is adding Anguilla, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands to its blacklist of tax-havens, in what some have called a "fig-leaf" exercise.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  2. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  3. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  4. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  5. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat
  6. Poland insists on German WW2 reparations
  7. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  8. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  2. EU wants probe into alleged Nagorno-Karabakh war crimes
  3. EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning
  4. EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination
  5. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  6. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  7. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  8. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us