Life Has Overtaken EU Decision Making: Border Control is the New Migration Mechanism

Border checks of arrivals on the German side of the European Bridge between Strasbourg and Kehl on March 16, 2020 (Photo by Leonhard Lenz / Wikimedia Commons)

While member states have been debating on what to do when a crisis experienced in 2015 breaks out, the reality of constant influx and an uptake in human smuggling activity have forced new policies, most importantly, reinstated border control inside the European Union. With this, one of the most important aspects of the bloc can go out the window.

The interior minister of Austria said on Wednesday that in an effort to curb irregular migration and stop smugglers from altering their routes and eluding the law, the country would be stepping up border checks with the Czech Republic.

Not Only Austria Has Reinstituted Border Checks

According to Alabrabiya News, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner stated, “The police officers will carry out effective and targeted controls at the (Czech) border in order to prevent the smuggling mafia from shifting their routes.”

In the meantime, given the large number of refugees arriving in Germany, the German Interior Ministry is anticipated to register permanent border controls with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland with the European Commission. Denmark’s Ministry of Justice said on October 13 that border controls would be maintained for an additional six months along its border with Germany. The EU had already opened a probe into the nation in the summer for allegedly continuously extending interim controls starting in 2016.

The purpose of the checks is to detect and prevent unauthorised arrivals and to combat people smugglers more successfully.

On Monday, October 16, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser declared that for ten days, physical border checks would be reinstated between Germany and its neighbours, the Czech Republic to the east, Poland to the northeast, and Switzerland to the south. It is said that the initial inspections happened soon after.

Denmark, Germany, and Austria are not the only nations stepping up border security. Poland and the Czech Republic decided to prolong their temporary border checks with Slovakia until the beginning of November, with the option to extend further, last week. The goal of the action is to stop unauthorised migration via the Balkan route.

“This is a measure necessary for the effective fight against groups of smugglers and illegal migration,” Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan posted on social media platform X (formerly Twitter). 

The recent terrorist attack has prompted new initiatives: yesterday, Italy reinstated border controls with Slovenia as part of its strategy to improve home security against threats of terrorist attacks in Europe, the government said.

Stupidity or The Beginning of the End?

Renew Europe’s Guy Verhofstadt called border controls “stupid” and has written on X “When will we learn: only an integrated (EU) with a common management of our external borders can solve our migration problems and secure open borders between our member states alike !

Many others consider these developments the start of the downfall of the European project.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Europe’s open-border Schengen zone would not survive unless the EU’s external frontiers were better protected from unwanted immigration.

Johansson: EU in Good Standing but More Needs To Be Done

Arriving at the session of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Commissioner Ylva Johansson said during her doorstep interview that there is „an escalating situation ongoing with organized criminal groups that are increasingly violent and increasingly professional and increasingly international. (…) So keeping (the Schengen Zone) safe will be one of the main focus for the discussion today in this council.

Concerning the general topic of migration, she added the EU is in a good position now. However, it is important “that we step up when it comes to returning those that don’t have the right to stay in the European Union. We have done a lot, so already this year we’ve seen an increase with 20 percent of returnees. So we are actually effectively returning more people today, but still more needs to be done.”

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