The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Schengen countries can extend border controls in the event of threats

In the Schengen area, internal border controls are actually only permitted as a last resort - but in future, EU countries will be able to maintain them for up to three years in the event of serious threats. This is provided for in a reform of the Schengen Code, which was agreed by negotiators from the member states and the European Parliament on Wednesday night.

Until now, the 27 Schengen states - 23 EU states plus Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland - have been able to introduce internal border controls for two years in the event of "exceptional circumstances". In future, according to the agreement, it will be possible to extend the controls for a further year "in serious exceptional situations in view of a persistent threat".

In return, the requirements for Schengen countries that want to make use of such internal border controls are to be tightened. They must better examine the proportionality and possible alternatives such as veil searches. In the event of health crises such as the coronavirus pandemic, countries will also have to coordinate better in future.

According to Brussels, more than half of the 27 member states currently have such controls. Switzerland carried out border controls in the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Schengen Area actually provides for free travel without passport controls and the unbureaucratic transportation of goods.

However, there have been numerous problems in recent years, from the "Covid-19 pandemic to security threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime to irregular migration", the Commission emphasized. The member states and the European Parliament must now formally approve the agreement.


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