EU to end internal Schengen controls by November

A police officer checks IDa on the Swedish side of the Oresund strait, November 2015. [Nils Meilvang/EPA ]

Member states that imposed border controls in the passport-free Schengen area because of the migrant crisis should end them by November, Brussels said yesterday (2 May).

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU Norway introduced the ID checks in 2015 and have been allowed to repeatedly prolong them at set intervals.

EU to host Schengen talks with Sweden and Denmark

The EU said it will host emergency talks Wednesday (6 January) with Denmark, Sweden and Germany about new migrant border checks that have sparked fresh concerns about Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone.

Sweden said earlier Tuesday that it was scrapping the checks.

The European Commission said it would now only recommend one final half-year extension from mid-May.

Juncker: Restoring borders will kill internal market

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned today (15 January) that restoring borders in response to the refugee problem could kill off the internal market.

“The time has come to take the last concrete steps to gradually return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area,” EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters.

“This will be the last prolongation.”

The five countries first introduced the checks as a record wave of refugees and migrants from Syria and other Middle East countries and from Africa streamed across Europe.

Brussels initially set the goal of getting rid of the checks by the end of 2016 but that proved impossible.

EU unveils plan to restore Schengen by the end of 2016

The EU on Friday (4 March) unveiled a “roadmap” to end border controls imposed by member states because of the migrant crisis and restore by the year’s end the Schengen passport-free travel area.

The Schengen area comprises 22 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Explaining the decision for one final extension, Avramopoulos said the ID controls were “exceptional, proportionate, and as a last resort, for a strict and limited period – in this case, for a last time, of maximum six months.”

Member states would instead strengthen “proportionate police checks across the territory” of the bloc, especially near internal borders, he said.

End to Schengen deal would cost Europe €110 bln: French adviser

A permanent return to frontier controls in Europe would cost countries in the Schengen open-borders area about €110 billion over the next decade, the French government’s official think-tank said on Wednesday (3 February).