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06/12/2016

Commission to give green light to extension of border controls

Justice & Home Affairs

Commission to give green light to extension of border controls

The Schengen zone looks likely to remain under threat for the rest of 2016, at least.

[Philippe Le Moine/Flickr]

The European Commission wants to give Germany and other member states the option of extending internal border controls beyond the middle of May. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

The executive is set to allow member states to continue border checks within the Schengen area. On Friday (29 April), it emerged from EU sources that the Commission will seek to activate a crisis mechanism in the Schengen Codex. The decision, which would see countries such as Germany and Austria continue their border checks beyond the middle of this month, is set to be announced after a meeting of the 28 Commissioners on Wednesday (4 May).

Without an activation of the mechanism by the Commission, member states currently imposing border checks within Schengen would have no legal basis to do so beyond 12 May.

New study plays down economic impact of Schengen border controls

The reintroduction of border controls could cost Europe up to €15 billion a year, according to a team of Munich-based economic researchers. But unlike other experts, they report that this figure is manageable, however unwieldy it might seem. EurActiv Germany reports.

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Since the EU’s deal with Turkey came into effect last month, the issue of the EU’s external border has calmed down to some extent. However, since it is still early days and any thought of assessing the results of the agreement would be premature, the executive wants to allow the member states to extend any necessary border controls through to November. The aim is to progressively phase out border controls over the coming months though.

Germany first introduced border checks in the middle of September. The country’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière (CDU), was recently criticised by his party’s coalition partner, the CSU, for suggesting that border checks might not be extended beyond the 12 May cut-off point.

Orbán will tour EU capitals with ‘Schengen 2.0’ plan

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will tour EU capitals to push for a 10-point plan for the protection of EU’s external borders and free movement within the community, dubbed ‘Schengen 2.0’.

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EU sources also allegedly claimed that the Commission wants to “fight with Italy” to keep the Brenner Pass open. Austria is still considering the option of erecting a fence at the pass, which links Austria to Italy, to safeguard against “extreme situations” in which the country could be “overrun” by refugees, according to Wolfgang Sobotka, the alpine republic’s new interior minister, who met with de Maizière on Friday.

The plan has been labelled as a potential “political disaster for Europe” by many political figures, including outgoing UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

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