In the event of a serious threat to public order or internal security, a Schengen country may, on an exceptional basis, temporarily reintroduce internal border controls, in principle for a limited period of 30 days. If such controls are reinstated, the other Schengen countries, the European Parliament and the Commission should be informed, as should the public. Whether the current situation still justifies internal border control is a political debate. Whatever position is taken, the question remains how the Schengen rules should progress. Efforts are being made to revise the rules in light of the challenges of recent years. In September 2017, the European Commission proposed an amendment to the Schengen border code, which would allow, among other things, to extend the maximum duration of the checks to three years. On the other hand, the European Parliament voted in favour of strengthening the existing rules, so that the absolute ceiling is one year and an extension beyond six months requires an evaluation by the Commission. But: “Since September 2015, some countries have been using all the legal possibilities of the Schengen code to extend border controls,” said Yves Pascouau, senior adviser at the European policy centre (EPC) in Brussels, who obtained his doctorate in EU migration law. “It`s unprecedented.” The graph below shows every time a Schengen Member State has re-established border controls since the creation of the free movement area. The vertical line marks September 2015. Since 2015, a number of measures have been implemented to strengthen the EU`s external borders: the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, was created in 2016, the bloc signed a refugee agreement with Turkey in 2016 to relieve Greece, and smarter information systems and other mechanisms to strengthen and support the Schengen perimeter were put in place. Indeed, the Schengen Agreement paved the way for the release of the Schengen visa.

Although this is not part of the original provisions of the agreement, the top 15 countries need only a visa for all. The Schengen visa may allow non-EU members to travel freely to the countries participating in the programme. After the total abolition of internal border controls, anyone with a single Schengen visa can enter any country subject to the total obligation to issue for up to 90 days and a period of six months. On 14 June 1985, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the Schengen Agreement on the phasing out of controls at their common borders. The agreement is named after the small town of Luxembourg, on the border with France and Germany, where it was signed. Although Andorra has not yet signed the Schengen Agreement, it does not have controls at its borders with neighbouring countries, Spain and France. San Marino has also not signed the Schengen Agreement, but there are no border controls with its only neighbour, Italy. In 2015, as more and more refugees entered the European Union, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Hungary quickly re-established controls, citing a “continued influx of people seeking international protection.” This is the first time that migration has been cited as the reason for the reintroduction of border controls.