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Brussels signals end to temporary border controls

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Brussels signals end to temporary border controls

Photo by BlueMars

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission recommended Wednesday that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway phase out the temporary controls at some of their internal Schengen borders over the next six months.

The EU executive recommended one final extension of the temporary controls, which means they will have to be lifted in six months' time. It says that while "the overall situation continues to stabilise, there are still a significant number of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Greece."

During this time it stipulates that controls should only be carried out in a targeted and limited manner and only as a means of last resort.

At the same time, the Commission is calling on Member States to increasingly make use of alternative measures that can provide the same level of security, such as proportionate police checks in border areas and along main transport routes. The Commission has accordingly also presented a Recommendation on proportionate police checks and police cooperation in the Schengen area.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans praised efforts to make EU borders "stronger and more secure". This makes it possible "that in six months' time we will get back to a fully functioning Schengen area without internal border controls."

"The time has come to gradually return to a fully functioning Schengen system," said Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. "We recommend that temporary Schengen internal border controls be prolonged for one last time but call on Member States to phase them out, at the same time as compensating with proportionate police checks across their territory," he said/

The Commission says there has been substantial progress in tightening security on the EU's external borders, and limiting irregular migration over the past months. It says the full roll out of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency is progressing steadily since its launch on 6 October 2016; following the EU-Turkey Statement, irregular arrivals in Greece have decreased by 97%.

But irregular migrants and asylum seekers are still present in Greece, and the Commission urges more effort to accelerate the processing of asylum applications, increase relocation and to ensure the resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece.

The Commission is also recommending that all Schengen States make more effective use of proportionate police checks, including in border areas to remedy threats to public policy or internal security. It calls for a strengthening of cross-border police cooperation. And it recommends that Member States fully apply existing bilateral agreements that allow for the swift bilateral return of third-country nationals.

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

Commission Recommendation on proportionate police checks and police cooperation in the Schengen area (DISCLAIMER: This is a pre-finalised version of the text. Formal adoption will take place on Thursday 4 May)

Questions and answers: Temporary internal border controls, police checks and police cooperation in the Schengen area


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