Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway can now phase out the temporary controls currently in place at their internal Schengen borders over the next six months, the European Commission said this week, calling on member states to make use of alternative measures that can provide the same level of security.
“Thanks to our joint efforts, our external borders are now stronger and more secure. By working together it is possible to have both security and freedom of movement. This means that in six months’ time we will get back to a fully functioning Schengen area without internal border controls,” said European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.
The Commission said it was recommending that controls be prolonged for the last time, and be lifted in six months due to the progress made towards stability. Despite this progress however, it cannot as yet allow the complete lifting all internal border controls as some Schengen states are still exposed to a risk of irregular secondary movements.
As was the case in the previous periods, controls should only be carried out in a targeted and limited manner and only as a means of last resort.
“The time has come to gradually return to a fully functioning Schengen system, and today we propose the concrete steps to do it. We recommend that temporary Schengen internal border controls be prolonged for one last time but call on member states to phase them out, at the same time as compensating with proportionate police checks across their territory,” said Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
The controls were tightened due to deficient management of Greece’s external borders during the peak of the refugee crisis which was seen as a threat to public policy and internal security and endangering the overall functioning of the Schengen area.
According to the Commission, progress has been made in better securing the EU’s external borders and restricting irregular migration over the past months.
This is the last time a prolongation of these controls is legally possible under EU rules.