The European Commission has recommended member states be allowed to temporarily extend border controls already in place in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, an announcement said on Wednesday.
Border controls will be extended for another three months, the announcement added.
The Commission said that the conditions to return to the Schengen system, which regulates the EU borders, have not been met yet, necessitating the extension of the border controls.
Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Significant progress has been made to lift internal border controls, but we need to solidify it further. This is why we recommend allowing the member states concerned to maintain temporary border controls for a further three months.”
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of EU integration, which we must not take for granted. The European Commission is and remains fully committed to work with member states in gradually phasing out temporary internal border controls and return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area without internal border control as soon as possible.
“While over the past months we have been continuously strengthening our measures to address the unprecedented migratory pressure that Europe is facing, we are not there yet unfortunately. That is why we recommend that the Council allows member states to continue limited temporary internal border controls for another three months, under strict conditions, and only as a last resort.”
The controls concern the same internal borders as those recommended by the Council on November 11, 2016:
Austria: at the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian land border;
Germany: at the German-Austrian land border;
Denmark: in Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border;
Sweden: in Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Oresund bridge;
Norway: in Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden.
The Commission has said that in the past months progress was made in securing and better managing external borders and reducing irregular migration.
“With the establishment of the hotspot system, the registration and fingerprinting of migrants arriving in Greece and Italy has now reached a rate of almost 100 per cent,” the announcement said.
However, the announcement added that “a significant number” of irregular migrants and asylum seekers still remain in Greece and the situation remains fragile on the Western Balkans route.
“As of February 2017, European Border and Coast Guard operations will assist Greece at the Northern Greek external border,” the announcement added, about efforts to deal with irregular migration challenges.