Some Schengen Nations Reestablishing Internal Border Controls

Euronews is reporting that up to seven Schengen Agreement countries have at least partially reestablished internal border controls in 2023, where travelers may have to stop at checkpoints to travel between different Schengen nations. This includes German checkpoints at the nation’s border with Poland and the Czech Republic.

One of the primary principles of the Schengen Agreement is the right of citizens and visitors to travel freely between Schengen member states, thus precluding the use of internal border controls. However, the Schengen Agreement does include clauses that allow for temporary border control reinstatement when there is a threat to national security or public order. It appears that Germany and other Schengen states are using these clauses to reestablish internal border controls, at least for now.

The German government attributes the resumption in border checks to their endeavor to reduce human trafficking. The reasoning could also be due to the large number of migrants arriving in southern Europe. This influx of migrants could be why Slovenia has stepped up border checks with new Schengen member Croatia.

There could be other reasons. According to Alberto-Horst Neidhardt, head of the migration program at the Centre for European Policy, “What we are seeing now is another example of the fragility of the Schengen zone. Germany and now other member states are reinstating border controls. This is happening for several reasons, including political ones. In particular, it has to do with the upcoming elections at local and national levels, putting pressure on central governments.”

But political scientist Eugenio Cusumano of the University of Messina disagrees that it’s anything to worry about. “Often it is only a question of spot checks. They only stop a fraction of the people crossing the border. This is not really a full restoration of internal borders. It is a symbolic measure. The Schengen system is perfectly fine. This is one of the greatest achievements of European integration,” he said.

The Schengen Borders Code only allows member states to introduce border controls temporarily, so it remains to be seen how long they will be in place, or how many other Schengen nations may decide to follow suit.

How Will Internal Schengen Nation Border Controls Affect Travelers?

For those traveling to the Schengen Area on a Schengen visa or without a visa, travel should continue to remain the same as it has been. The supposedly temporary internal border controls that do exist are not currently tasked with checking every person. However, it may be a good idea to keep your passport/visa handy whenever crossing national borders just so you’re held up as little as possible if you are questioned.

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