Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU
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"The EU member states imposing border controls to stop migration flows from Greece will have to remove them before the end of year.
EU migration and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday (2 May) that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway will only be allowed to extend existing controls one last time.
"This is the last prolongation, I repeat it, this is the last prolongation," Avramopoulos told reporters in Brussels."
See: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU (EUobserver, link)
This will be the fourth and - in theory - final time that the internal controls will be prolonged since May 2016. The Commission's paper explains the background to the current situation and cites the number of migrants and refugees in Greece (due to the closure of borders and the failure of the EU's relocation scheme) and the potential resurgence in the movement of people along the 'Balkan Route' as reasons for controls to be prolonged again.
The Commission's proposal for a Council Implementing Decision is accompanied by a Recomendation - yet to be approved by the Commission - on "proportionate police checks and cooperation in the Schengen area", which calls on Schengen states to "intensify police checks across the entire territory, including in border areas."
See: European Commission: Proposal for a COUNCIL IMPLEMENTING DECISION setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM(2017) 226 final, 2 May 2017, pdf):
"As in the previous period, the numbers of migrants present in Greece may be still of concern and may justify maintaining appropriate measures. The situation along the Western Balkans Route remains fragile and the Member States most affected by the secondary movements of irregular migrants coming from Greece remain exposed to a risk of irregular movements.
Moreover, as already explained above, the rolling out of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency requires a few more months in order to allow the Agency to be able to fully build its capabilities and fulfil its role in protecting the EU external borders.
Furthermore, to help in addressing the backlog in processing asylum applications in Greece, relocations and returns from Greece and other Member States must be significantly stepped up. The Commission therefore urges Member States to meet the set targets of relocation by September 2017 to ensure that all eligible candidates are relocated.
As all the above elements point towards the persistence of exceptional circumstances, the Commission considers it justified to allow Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to prolong the current internal border control as an exceptional measure for a further proportionate period."
And the Commission's proposed Recommendation: on proportionate police checks and police cooperation in the Schengen area (C(2017) 2923, pdf) including:
"More effective use of police checks
(1) To adequately remedy the threats to public policy or internal security within the Schengen area, Member States should, where needed and justified in accordance with national law:
(a) intensify police checks across the entire territory, including in border areas;
(b) carry out police checks on main transport routes, including in border areas;
(c) adapt the police checks in border areas on the basis of continuous risk assessment, while ensuring that those police checks do not have border control as an objective;
(d) make use of modern technologies in order to monitor vehicles and traffic
See also: European Commission: Third report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM(2017) 219, pdf)
And: Questions & Answers: Temporary internal border controls, proportionate police checks and police cooperation in the Schengen area (pdf)
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