EU: Tighter Border Controls Implemented in the Schengen Zone

In light of the migrant crisis, tighter border controls are being implemented between Schengen states. Travellers within the Schengen zone should be advised that from now on they may face delays at border crossings due to passport control and should therefore ensure that they carry all required documentation such as passport, Schengen visa or residence permit if applicable whenever travelling between Schengen countries.

Dutch migration minister, Klaas Dijkhoff, said the member states would ask the European Commission for permission to extend border controls from May 2016 onwards and the suspension of the free movement treaty between countries in the Schengen zone  is expected to last at least two years.  

Currently, border controls have already been reintroduced on borders between several EU member states in an attempt to manage the number of migrants entering countries  including; Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia (Effectively the main route for refugees to reach Northern Europe). However, under the current agreement these border controls can only be held in place on a temporary basis for up to six months. Approval of the use of article 26 of the Schengen agreement will allow those controls to be extended for up to two years.

EU Ministers have urged that the proposal for extension of the initial 6 months be approved. EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos stated that unless such measures were approved, they would be “running out of time” to save the 30-year-old Schengen zone. However other commentators have stated that the reverse is true. One EU official told The Times: “If border controls were allowed to remain for two years, it is difficult to see that they would ever be removed.”

Furthermore, Brussels is debating whether to exclude Greece from the Schengen agreement completely, due to  their poor record on registering refugees and for allowing large numbers to enter neighbouring Schengen/EU countries. If Greece”s failures are found to be a “persistent serious deficiency” they could find themselves locked out of the Schengen Zone.

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