BORDER SECURITYSchengen States Extend Border Checks, Ignoring EU Court

By Kira Schacht

Published 17 November 2022

Though the top EU court recently ruled that Germany, Denmark and other Schengen states have no legal basis for extending border checks reimposed in 2015, the European Commission is not initiating infringement procedures.

According to the Schengen Agreement
, people and goods may freely cross the borders of the 26 signatory countries without any checks or requirements. Internal border controls within the Schengen Area can only be reintroduced as a last resort in response to serious threats to domestic security.

Citing concerns about migration and/or terrorism, however, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and France have kept border controls in place continuously since displaced people began arriving to Europe in increased numbers in 2015. The countries have just prolonged the checks for another six months. 

That’s the second extension since the European Court of Justice ruled in April that temporary reintroductions of border controls may not last longer than six months per announced threat. 

DW analysis from 2019 had also found that these border controls violate the terms of the Schengen Agreement, which is considered a binding law for the 22 EU countries who have signed on, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

“Too politically Sensitive”
It would usually be the role of the European Commission to admonish member states for breaching EU laws. Such infringement proceedings can lead to heavy financial sanctions. In 2018, for example, Spain had not fully implemented rules mandating that all EU citizens have access to reasonably priced bank accounts. The Commission ordered Spain
 to pay €50,000 every day until it could implement a national law conforming to the rules.