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Jorrit Rijpma on possible reform of Schengen Agreement

Europe's open borders are under pressure: Europe has an increasing number of Member States with governments calling for tighter border controls. Several political parties in the Netherlands are also calling for stricter border controls, among other things, to reduce the number of asylum seekers. Yet, the free movement of people and goods is one of the core principles of the EU.

Jorrit Rijpma

Since 2015, the year of the refugee crisis, many EU Member States have introduced controls at internal borders for long periods of time. 'There are currently seven Member States with border controls,' Jorrit Rijpma, Professor of European Law, said on Dutch radio programme ‘Spraakmakers. 'And the European Commission isn’t doing much about it.'

An EU Member State may temporarily introduce border controls when there is a major threat to public order or security. So, for example, if there is a terrorist attack in Germany, the Netherlands may introduce border controls for up to six months.

Other argument

Yet many EU Member States are using a different argument to introduce border controls. 'Since 2015, many asylum seekers have been travelling on from the country responsible for reception, such as Italy and Greece. To counter that, many Member States are reintroducing border controls. The countries are doing that for much longer than they are allowed and they are not being corrected, even though the highest European court said a few months ago that it is not allowed.'

We have the principle of free movement, but when there are many asylum seekers, for example, that comes under pressure and we don't abide by the rules. So is it time to reform the Schengen Agreement? 'The Agreement has always been under pressure, so there’s talk of reform,' says Rijpma. 'It’s something that’s always on the table, but then ultimately nothing happens.'

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