The European Commission has allowed Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to maintain some border controls, but just for six more months.
The EU told the countries that over the next six months, they must gradually stop controlling their borders with other European countries.
The EU also said:
- The rule it extended to allow the border controls to continue cannot be extended again.
- Instead of border controls, countries should use police checks.
- The countries can resume border controls any time if they have a new reason.
EU rule extended
In a statement issued May 2, the EU said that under European Union rules, the countries can extend the temporary border controls only one more time, for six months.
The controls were introduced in May 2016, and they have already been extended twice. Under EU rules they can be extended only three times total.
The EU recommended that the countries extend the temporary border controls one final time because "there are still a significant number of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers in Greece."
After that, it said, the countries must lift the controls.
They could put the controls back in place in case of "another serious threat to public policy or internal security," the EU said.
An example of another serious threat would be a large increase in the number of people entering southern Europe from North Africa.
More police checks
The EU said the countries should replace the border controls with increased police checks in border areas and along popular travel routes.
It also recommended more police cooperation between countries.
The EU said increased police checks would work better than border checks to stop people from entering countries without permission.
It is up to each country how and when to conduct police checks, but under EU rules the police checks cannot amount to border controls.
The commission encouraged countries to use surveillance cameras and other modern technologies like truck X-rays to patrol borders.
The borders affected by the EU's statement are:
- Austria's land borders with Hungary and Slovenia
- Germany's land border with Austria
- Denmark's land border with Germany and its ports with ferry connections to Germany
- Sweden's harbors in the Police Region South and West and its Öresund bridge to Denmark
- Norway's ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden
Sweden ended border checks on the Öresund bridge on May 4.
It said it would increase surveillance cameras and truck X-rays on the bridge.
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Cover photo: Financial Times