EU Commission Calls on Germany to Cease Border Controls and Reemphasise Schengen
The EU Commission seeks to have the Schengen Agreement enforced more consistently in the future. The responsible EU Interior Commissioner calls upon six states to abolish their internal border controls despite concerns.
Brussel’s EU Commission is calling on several EU states, including Germany, to cease the control of internal borders as quickly as practicable and thus reinforce guaranteed freedom of movement in the Schengen area after four years. The Schengen area includes 26 European countries.
In an interview with Germany’s leading Sunday newspaper (tomorrow’s edition), EU Commissioner for Interior Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos stated that the essence of the Schengen system was “precisely the absence of internal border controls.”
While Avramopoulos understood the states’ concerns regarding security and illegal immigration, he insists that alternative measures ought to be utilized in lieu of border controls. Additional police controls and increase cross-border cooperation were such measures, according to Avramopoulos.
The timing of his interview does not come as a surprise. Only the previous week, Denmark and Austria had announced an extension of controls at the borders with Germany or Hungary and Slovenia. Denmark furthermore announced that it would introduce new border controls at the Swedish border in mid-November.
Meanwhile, Germany had already extended its checks to Austria for a further six months at the end of September. France is also holding on to its own controls. Due to the refugee crisis and continuous terrorist threats, the countries imposed border controls in 2015 and early 2016, respectively.
According to Avramopoulos, six Schengen countries were currently carrying out internal border controls, namely the aforementioned Germany, Austria, France and Denmark. Also, Norway and Sweden. A development Avramopoulos appears to be concerned by.
He has described the freedom of goods and passenger transport within the Schengen area as “one of the greatest and most tangible achievements of European integration”.
At the same time, four years after the introduction of border controls, the EU Commissioner from Greece called on the countries concerned to reevaluate their approach, stating that one needed to do “everything one can to ensure that the Schengen area exists without permanent border controls”.
The Commission was “ready to grant full support to the Member States” and their concerns. It was crucial to maintain stability and to reinforce the Schengen system. A collapse of Schengen “will be the end of Europe as we know it today,” Avramopoulos concluded.