The European Commission has launched a rearguard defence of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area, even as it bowed to demands to start planning the reintroduction of border controls.
On Monday, EU interior ministers instructed the Commission to devise emergency measures for a new system of controls within the 26-nation travel zone for the next two years. But Commission officials insisted that the emblematic Schengen agreement remained very much alive and was still needed for the future. “We are saving Schengen by applying Schengen,” a Commission spokesman said.
Six Schengen members have reintroduced controls since last year: Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, Denmark and the non-EU member Norway. But such measures are usually allowed for a maximum of six months, and Commission officials are now examining how the legal framework can be used to allow a further two years of controls at internal borders.