Swiss-German border checks used to be the norm up until 2008, when Switzerland joined the Schengen Area. From then on, citizens travelling between Switzerland and any other Schengen country have not been subject to routine checks. Individuals can currently travel freely in a Europe-wide border-free zone.
However, recent events have reignited the debate on migrants once again. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer declared that he would do everything in his power to arrange intelligent border controls.
Swiss-German border checks may be temporary
The temporary reintroduction of Swiss-German border controls —although not yet discussed with Chancellor Angela Merkel— may be put in place in an attempt to reduce illegal immigration in Germany.
Seehofer also stated that he plans to reinforce security at German train stations, announcing he would soon present a strategy geared towards achieving this.
Benjamin Strasser, a German interior affairs spokesperson for the liberal Free Democrats, voiced his disagreement with stricter border controls. Similarly, the German parliamentary group spokesperson for the opposition Greens, Konstantin von Notz, also asserted that Seehofer’s plans would likely not make any significant contribution to German security.
Internal Schengen border control controversy
Increased border control has been a topic debated amongst politicians in both Germany and Switzerland for the past few years. Either way, random and targeted controls are already customary along German borders and within the country’s territory, according to Strasser.
Germany already has routine border checks with Austria, one of its 9 neighbouring countries. German-Austrian border checks are set to expire on November 11th, 2020. Similarly, German neighbouring countries Norway and Denmark have reintroduced border checks with the country. Border checks between Germany and Norway as well as between Germany and Denmark are also set to end on November 11th, 2020.
Denmark’s former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen recommended that Denmark instate permanent border controls in an effort to manage illegal migration and prevent terrorism. Immediately after Rasmussen’s announcement, Danish political analysts claimed that it was contradictory to be in favour of permanent border controls whilst being a Schengen member.
The introduction of internal border controls within the Schengen Zone has been intensely debated between several member countries for years. Recently, several member nations have continued to increase their internal security checks due to the European migrant crisis.
EU countries with internal border checks
Currently, the following Schengen countries carry out internal border checks in an effort to improve the security situation in Europe:
Improved internal security within the Schengen zone
All of these measures, much like the introduction of ETIAS, are being put in place with the aim of increasing security within the Schengen Area for citizens and visitors alike. ETIAS is a travel authorisation that will register and monitor visa-exempt third-country citizens coming to any Schengen country and will be mandatory from 2022 onwards.
Obtaining this electronic travel authorisation will be quick and convenient, the entire process is online. The ETIAS requirements are simple and straightforward, as ETIAS is not a visa there is no need to present supporting documents at an embassy or consulate. Just a few basic details are required to help improve European border security.
Germany is the second nation with the most bordering countries in Europe, exceeded only by Russia. The German land border spans 3,712 kilometres.
Germany shares a land border with the following 9 European countries:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
Germany shares sea borders with the following European countries:
- Sweden (North Sea)
- The United Kingdom (Baltic Sea)
From 2022, citizens of visa-exempt third countries will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver to enter Germany, or any of the other 25 Schengen nations, visa-free. The new travel authorisation is valid for multiple stays of up to 90 days per 180-day period.