EU agrees to 3-month extension of Schengen controls

The European Commission gave a green light today three more months of Schengen border controls at 5 specific passages.

Specifically, the five passageways are: in Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian land borders, in Germany at the German-Austrian land border, in Denmark in Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border, in Sweden in Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Oresund bridge, and in Norway in Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

Despite a progressive stabilisation of the situation, the Commission considers that the conditions of the ‘Back to Schengen’ Roadmap allowing for a return to a normally functioning Schengen area are not yet fully fulfilled.

The College of Commissioners, debating the issue today in Strasbourg, decided that despite a significant decrease in the number of arrivals of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, notably due to the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, a significant number of irregular migrants still remains in Greece as well as in the member states which have been most affected by secondary movements from Greece. The lifting of the temporary border controls could therefore, at this stage, lead to an increase in secondary movements. Furthermore, the large number of asylum requests made over the past year, along with the applications still being received, have put a significant strain on national administrations and services in the five Schengen states to which the Recommendation is addressed.

The Commission hopes that the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the full application of the existing Dublin rules with the full participation of Greece will lead to normalisation of the border situation in due time.

“The exceptional circumstances that led to the adoption of the Council Recommendation of 12 May still persist,” according to the decision.

“It is therefore justified to allow the Member States concerned to prolong the current internal border controls for a further proportionate period. Based on the factual indicators available at this stage, the prolongation should not exceed three months,” the decision said.

Presenting the decision Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “We have one clear priority and determination: to safeguard Schengen and to restore a normally functioning Schengen area as soon as the conditions allow for it. Over the past months we have taken important steps to address deficiencies at our external borders.”

He pointed out: “A milestone in our work has been the recent launch of our European Border and Coast Guard to better address migration and security challenges. But we are unfortunately not there yet. This is why, we recommend to maintain, for a strictly limited period of time, coordinated and proportionate internal border controls at some Schengen borders. In the meantime we continue our work to further address all current migratory and security challenges so we can lift all internal border controls as soon as possible.”

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