Austria lobbying the EU to maintain border controls inside Schengen area

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In the forthcoming negotiations on the reform of border controls within the Schengen area, Austria will lobby for the right to carry out temporary controls, reports the German news agency DPA. The country has also announced the extension of temporary border control with Hungary and Slovenia until September, although the EU Court of Justice ruled such actions illegal. Austria has been controlling these borders since 2015.

Austria lobbying the EU to maintain border controls inside Schengen area
Photo credits @ Facebook.com/reiner.schone.1

Border controls within the Schengen area should be allowed to continue “if necessary,” Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said at the European Police Congress in Berlin on 11 May. According to the DPA, Karner added that the states in the Schengen area need “strong external border protection” to be able to guarantee the right to free movement on the “continent” in the future.

At the same time, Karner announced that Austria’s border controls with Hungary and Slovenia will be maintained for at least another six months to stop human traffickers.

European Court of Justice ruled against continuous Austrian border controls

Incidentally, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in April that states could only block traffic through border controls if “their public order or internal security is threatened by a new, serious threat”. This decision was taken in the case of the Austrian-Slovenian border control.

Due to the effects of the European refugee crisis and increasing migration, Austria introduced for the first time unilateral temporary border controls in autumn 2015. In justified cases of threat to public security, the Schengen Borders Code allows for the application of border controls, but only for a limited period of time. However, Austria has been renewing the border control every six months ever since, and it is still in force today.

According to the rules of the Schengen Borders System, in the event of a serious threat to internal security, it is possible to reintroduce border control, but only once, for six months. After that, the extension can only be justified for another reason. According to the court, Austria has not been able to substantiate the need to maintain border controls since 2017.

Nevertheless, Austria has already announced that it will extend its inspections again – this time is going to be in place until September.

EU Commission recommends reforms

Last December, the EU Commission put forward a proposal to change the rules on border controls. As the recommendation goes, henceforth, introducing border controls would require prior consultation with the neighbouring country concerned.

However, these negotiations have not yet been concluded and Austria will continue to lobby for the autonomy of introducing border controls.

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