10 May 2022
Authorities in Austria have announced they are prolonging current border controls for a further six months at land borders with Hungary and Slovenia.
However, the EU Court of Justice said in a ruling published last month that prolonging border controls for the same reasons for more than six months, goes against the Schengen Borders Code.
The checks at Austria’s borders with Hungary and Slovenia were due to expire on 11th May, but will now continue until 11th November, reports Schengen Visa Info.
The EU Commission lists Austria as one of seven Schengen Area countries that have reintroduced internal border controls, naming the reasons for the controls as “secondary movements, risk related to terrorists and organised crime, the situation at the external borders.”
The same reasons had also been listed by Austrian authorities over the past six months. Yet, as per a judgement issued on 26th April by the European Union’s highest court, to use the same motives beyond a six-month period is illegal.
Although member states can legally introduce border controls to maintain internal security, the maximum time they can be imposed is six months.
“The EU legislature considered that a period of six months was sufficient for the Member State concerned to adopt, where appropriate in cooperation with the other Member States, measures enabling such a threat to be met while maintaining, after that six-month period, the principle of free movement,” the Court stated.
Nevertheless, the Court also notes that border controls can continue after six months if a new threat emerges. Should there be a threat to the functioning of the Schengen area, border controls can stay in place for up to two years.
“After the end of those two years as well, the Member State concerned may, where it is faced with a new serious threat to its public policy or internal security and all the conditions imposed by the Schengen Borders Code are met, immediately reintroduce border control for a maximum total duration of six months,” the Court said.