Europe’s internal borders will be controlled as the European Union found “serious deficiencies” with Greece’s external border patrol. European states in the Schengen Area are passport-free, but the rule changed Thursday with five states required to check internal borders for the next six months.
The move was controversial for overturning what some consider the EU's “greatest and most tangible achievement,” according to a press release by the European Parliament. Others questioned the need, proportionality, and cost of the extra checks and demanded that the controls be lifted. European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos insisted that the “exceptional and temporary” controls will not last past 2016.
The controls have already started in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway and cannot be renewed more than three times, or prolonged for longer than two years. France also has internal border controls, implemented through national law through its state of emergency.
The European Commission investigated Greece’s external border controls in November in one of many efforts to curb the migration of refugees to the continent. After implementing changes, the Greek government was angered that the European Council ordered additional checks.
Slovenia added that “there are currently no objective reasons that any such threat arises” from its shared border with Austria, which will now require a passport to cross.