In wake of the turbulent Covid19 pandemics, the national borders are being mostly closed between countries in Europe. At the EU level, these adjustments are being made every two weeks with slight changes in the lists of countries whose citizens can enter the EU. It is for these reasons of acute importance that this article will present what the EU does in borders’ management.
As stated in the EU Commission website, “in exceptional circumstances, where the overall functioning of the Schengen area is put at risk as a result of persistent serious deficiencies relating to external border control, and insofar as those circumstances constitute a serious threat to public policy or internal security, the Council may, based on a proposal from the Commission, recommend that one or more Member States decide to reintroduce border control at all or at specific parts of their internal borders”.
Furthermore, such a recommendation shall only be made as a last resort and as a measure to protect the common interests within the Schengen area, where all other measures, in particular those referred to in Article 21 of the Schengen Borders Code, are ineffective in mitigating the serious threat identified. The existence of serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border control must be first identified in an evaluation report, as drawn up pursuant to Regulation 1053/2013 establishing an evaluation and monitoring mechanism to verify the application of the Schengen acquis. The Member State concerned has three months in which to report on the implementation of the relevant action plan further to such an evaluation report. After the expiry of this period, if the Commission finds that the situation persists, it may trigger the application of the procedure provided for in Article 29 of the Schengen Borders Code where all the conditions for doing so are fulfilled.
In a package of proposals to enable travelling to resume safely in the EU, the Commission proposed on 13 May to countries that are part of the Schengen zone to gradually reopen their internal borders. The emphasis is on coordination, no discrimination based on nationality and the respect of common health-related criteria based on guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. EU interior ministers confirmed on 5 June that most member states will have lifted the controls at their internal borders and the related travel restrictions by 15 June, with others due to follow by the end of the month. Ministers agreed to continue to coordinate closely under the lead of the Commission. Ahead of the 15 June deadline, the Commission issued further recommendations on how to lift restrictions with non-EU countries after 1 July 2020. Find out on re-open.eu what the current travel conditions and safety measures are for each EU country.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Commission has been facilitating common guidelines to make sure that workers in critical sectors as well as deliveries of goods and services in the single market are guaranteed. It also facilitated the repatriations of almost 600,000 Europeans stranded abroad and proposed restricting entry of non-EU nationals into the EU, which now applies until the end of June.
Full list of EU Member States’ announcements could be found on this link.
However, what is interesting with the border management is that many borders are closed on occasion different from the Covid19. Such similar cases are the following: Temporary border controls reintroduced in a context different from COVID-19: 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; Denmark (12 May – 12 November 2020) Terrorist threats, organized criminality terrorist threats; land border with Germany and with Sweden, ferry connections to Germany and to Sweden; France (1 May – 31 October 2020) 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; Germany (12 May – 11 November 2020) Secondary movements, situation at the external borders; land border with Austria; Norway (12 May – 11 November 2020) Terrorist threats, secondary movements; ports with ferry connections with Denmark, Germany and Sweden.
Not only refugees are the ones who migrate nowadays. This article demonstrated that the EU has successful border management and once again ignited the issue of people’s movements across the globe. What will happen further remains to be analyzed yet, but what is sure is the fact that some countries recognize threats differentiated from the Covid19 circumstances.