Changing internal border checks rules
The proposal will be put forward to reform the Schengen Code
8 September, 2017
The Commission is readying changes on the rules that allow Member States to impose internal border controls and checks throughout the free-travel Schengen area, news wires reported. According to Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, a proposal will soon be put forward. “Very soon we shall be in a position to present our proposals,” he said last Wednesday.
The announcement comes ahead of a November deadline for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU member Norway to lift their internal checks. It also follows previous statements by Avramopoulos, who said during the summer that the countries would no longer be able to prolong border controls for another six months.
According to officials, a possible option for the reform would be to allow the states to use terrorism, and not migration flows, as a basis for internal controls. A new legal basis, based explicitly on terrorism, could allow the states to continue the border controls after the November deadline and possibly without limits on the extensions.
“There are some countries that have presented justified reasons in order to ask for an extension of internal border controls, but this period is approaching its end and it is not legally justified to prolong it,” Avramopoulos said. But pressure from Germany and France, along with other Member States, who want the rules reformed, appears to have eased the Commission's position and it is now preparing to launch a reform of the code.
Separately Commissioner Avramopoulos together with Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King reported on actions taken in the last 12 months on enhancing security at the EU external borders and improve information exchange between Member States. “In the past year, great strides have been taken to build a genuine Security Union. But the attacks of the past month alone show that we still need to do a lot to ensure the security of our citizens,” Avramopoulos pointed out. “The EU is reducing the space where terrorists can operate: making it harder for them to travel, to train, to get money, weapons and explosives. We have made our external borders more secure,” King added.
The Commission has supported Member States in their efforts over the past year under two main pillars: tackling terrorism and organised crime and the means that support them; and strengthening our defences and building resilience against those threats. Enhancing security at the external border was achieved through imposing systematic checks against security databases of all travellers, including EU citizens, crossing the external borders.