EU discusses the future of Schengen, migration, asylum and security in times of COVID-19

EU discusses the future of Schengen, migration, asylum and security in times of COVID-19

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) have quizzed Commissioner Johansson on the future of the border-free Schengen zone, common migration and asylum policy and security in the context of the pandemic.

In a debate in the Civil Liberties Committee, MEPs attempted to clarify how the Commission plans to ensure that temporary controls on the internal borders, reintroduced following the COVID-19 outbreak, are lifted in a coordinated manner.

The Schengen Borders Code provides Member States with the capability of temporarily reintroducing border control at the internal borders in the event that a serious threat to public policy or internal security has been established.

The reintroduction of border control at the internal borders must remain an exception and must respect the principle of proportionality.

The scope and duration of such a temporary reintroduction of border control at the internal borders is limited in time and should be restricted to the bare minimum needed to respond to the threat in question. Reintroducing border control at the internal border should only ever be used as a measure of last resort.

The reintroduction of border control is a prerogative of the Member States. The Commission may issue an opinion with regard to the necessity of the measure and its proportionality but cannot veto such a decision if it is taken by a Member State.

In a plenary resolution adopted on 17 April, the Parliament stressed that “border controls and restrictions on movement must remain proportionate and exceptional… all freedom of movement should be re-established as soon as it is deemed feasible.”

The much-awaited proposal on a new Pact for Asylum and Migration will also be raised with Ylva Johansson, as well as the situation of migrants and refugees at the EU’s external borders and on the main migration routes.

MEPs also looked at the general security situation in the EU, in relation to the pandemic.

In a report published in March, Europol warned that criminals are already adapting their modus operandi in view of COVID-19 and engaging in new criminal activities.

Current Temporarily Reintroduced Border Controls

Temporarily reintroduced border controls in the context of cases requiring immediate action:

Poland (15 March – 13 May 2020)

Coronavirus COVID-19; land borders with Czechia, Slovakia, Germany, Lithuania, sea borders, air borders;

Iceland (24 April – 15 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Germany (16 March – 15 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; land and air borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy and Spain, sea border with Denmark;

Portugal (16 March – 15 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; land border with Spain;

Czechia (14 March – 14 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; land borders with Austria and Germany, air borders;

Belgium (20 March – 19 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Norway (16 March – 16 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Switzerland (13 March – 13 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal air and land borders except from borders with Liechtenstein;

Hungary (12 March – 11 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal land and air borders;

Estonia (17 March – 17 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Lithuania (14 March – 14 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Slovakia (8 April – 7 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders.

Temporarily reintroduced border controls in the context of foreseeable events:

Spain (10 May – 24 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all land borders;

Finland (19 March – 14 June 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Lithuania (14 May – 31 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Czechia (14 May – 13 June 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; land borders with Austria and Germany, air borders;

Austria (8 May – 31 May 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; land borders with Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Czechia;

Belgium (19 May – 8 June 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Switzerland (14 May – 8 June 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal air and land borders except from borders with Liechtenstein;

Austria (12 May 2020 – 11 November 2020)
Secondary movements, risk related to terrorists and organized crime, situation at the external borders; land borders with Hungary and with Slovenia;

Sweden (12 May – 11 November 2020)
Terrorist threats, shortcomings at the external borders; to be determined but may concern all internal borders;

Denmark (12 May – 12 November 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19 (to the extend necessary), terrorist threats, organized criminality; all internal borders;

France (1 May – 31 October 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; continuous terrorist threat and risk of terrorists using the vulnerability of States due to COVID-19 pandemics; support to measures aiming at containing the spread of virus; all internal borders;

Norway (12 May – 11 November 2020)
Terrorist threats, secondary movements; ports with ferry connections with Denmark, Germany and Sweden;

Norway (15 May – 13 August 2020)
Coronavirus COVID-19; all internal borders;

Germany (12 May – 11 November 2020)
Secondary movements, situation at the external borders; land border with Austria.

Neal Path

Neal Path is a reporter covering international affairs and defense news. He leads a team of specialist technical journalists and defense forecasting analysts, working across a range of online products. Neal Path is a defense technology specialist and has written widely on most areas of defense technology, but his particular areas of interest include missile defense, precision weapons, naval warfare, sensor capabilities and military operations.
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