The EU’s interior ministers met in Luxembourg on Friday to discuss the EU executive’s proposal for an extension of border controls for up to three years on terror. In parallel, Austria, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and Norway have requested an extension of their border controls for a further six months from 12 November, ahead of the expiration of the last extension.
Regarding Austria, its minister of Interior Wolfgang Sobotka’s letter sent to the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, requesting the extension of controls to borders with Slovenia and Hungary. “Due to the tense security situation as well as existing deficits in the protection of the EU’s external borders and illegal secondary migration, controls at our borders are still necessary,” said Sobotka’s letter.
As for the Commission, Avramopoulos said the EU’s political scope remains to have a Schengen area free of border controls. The European Commission’s reform proposal is intended to preserve the Schengen zone in its entirety, as the EU executive sees Schengen as a symbol of European integration. “It is our duty to defend and preserve Schengen,” said the Commissioner in Luxembourg, sharing the concern of some EU countries regarding security. However, “Schengen is alive, Schengen must remain alive, and that is our duty, for when Schengen dies, Europe will die,” he said.
The Interior Ministers also discuss the Commission’s proposal to resettle another 50,000 refugees in the EU over the next two years.
Ministers will extend controls due to terrorism
Austria, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, which have so far carried out border controls in the Schengen area, while the European Commission has proposed the extension of duration from six months to one year, lining the extension of controls to more detailed risk analysis.
The German Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maiziere, also announced that Germany would extend its controls for six months because of the “tense situation in the European danger zone” with regard to international terrorism. “This is and will remain a time-limited measure,” added De Maiziere. The controls would be adapted to the situation and be flexible so that the impact on travelers would be minimal.
In the same line, France’s Minister of the Interior, Gerard Collomb, said that the continuation of border controls on the threat of terror was important, adding that France was very pleased with the Commission’s proposal, even if Paris would still have to comment on the modalities.
The Minister of the Interior of the current rotating presidency Estonia, Andres Anvelte, underlined that the internal controls could only be one exception and a temporary one.