The removal of interior border controls reintroduced on a temporary basis by the majority of Schengen Area Member States was a hot topic throughout the whole spring.
While many pushed for these controls to remain in force as a way to control the spread of the Coronavirus, others demanded their immediate removal, pointing out that they would affect the single market, and made the life of Schengen Area citizens more difficult, amongst others.
Upon a recommendation of the European Commission issued on June 11, to the Schengen Member States and the Associated States, to abolish the internal borders by June 15, the majority of these countries complied with the recommendation.
And though the topic has been left behind a bit, about one-third of the Schengen Countries still have temporary internal border controls in place. And while only four of them keep these borders in place in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, the rest mainly keep the borders effective due to security-related concerns.
Border Controls Reintroduced in the Context of Coronavirus
While by mid-March, 21 out of the total 26 Schengen Member States had introduced temporary border controls and banned entry for foreigners in the context of the COVID-19, currently only four Schengen countries do so.
Denmark, Finland, Lithuania and Norway, have held most internal borders in place due to fears of another surge in cases of COVID-19, caused by incoming travellers.
The first, Denmark, has all of its internal border controls in place. Though the government claims the will remain in force to the extent necessary, it has still set the date of November 12, as the day they end. Yet, even after November 12, the same may be extended for another six months.
Finland, the internal border controls of which are set to expire on September 2020, keeps them effective for countries where the COVID-19 situation is not that good, which are: Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Slovenia.
It is only recently that Finland has reintroduced border controls with several of these countries due to the pandemic, namely with Iceland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Norway and Denmark since August 24, Andorra, Belgium and the Netherlands on August 10, and with Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland on July 27.
Lithuania on the meantime has all of its internal air and sea borders in place, set to expire on September 13, and Norway has all of its internal borders effective until September 13.
Border Controls Reintroduced in a Context Different From COVID-19
There are some border controls within the Schengen Area that have been in place and continuously extended since 2015, during the migration crisis in Europe, when millions reached the continent from the Middle East and Africa.
Austria is one of these countries, which currently has imposed controls at the land borders with Hungary and with Slovenia due to secondary movements, risk related to terrorists and organized crime, and the situation at the external borders until November 11.
In addition to border controls imposed due to COVID-19, Denmark also has effective land border controls and ferry connections with Germany and Sweden, due to terrorist threats, organized criminality terrorist threats.
France’s temporary internal border controls, are somehow linked to Coronavirus, as the country claims it has introduced controls at all of its internal borders, effective until October 31 due to “continuous terrorist threat and risk of terrorists using the vulnerability of States due to COVID-19 pandemics.”
The remaining three others, Germany, Norway, and Sweden, have borders in place effective until November 11. Germany has reintroduced land border controls with Austria due to secondary movements and the situation at the external borders.
Norway, on the other hand, has controls at the ports with ferry connections with Denmark, Germany and Sweden due to terrorist threats and secondary movements. And lastly, Sweden keeps in place controls due to terrorist threats, shortcomings at the external borders, which are “to be determined but may concern all internal borders.”