Swiss-German border checks used to be the norm up until as recently as 2008, when Switzerland joined the Schengen Area. From then on, citizens traveling 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 involving foreigners 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 set in place in an attempt to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering Germany.
Seehofer also stated that he plans to reinforce security at German train stations, announcing he would soon present a strategy geared to achieve this.
Benjamin Strasser, a German interior affairs spokesperson for the liberal Free Democrats, stated 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 several 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 bordering countries. German-Austrian border checks are set to expire on November 12th, 2019. Similarly, German neighboring 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 12th, 2019.
Denmark’s former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen recommended that Denmark should 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 favor 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 multiple years. Over the last few years, several member nations have continued to increase their internal security checks due to the European migration 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 Schengen Zone
All of these measures, much like the introduction of ETIAS, are being set in place in order to increase security within the Schengen Area for citizens and visitors alike. ETIAS is a travel authorization that aims to register and monitor visa-exempt travelers coming to any Schengen member country and will be mandatory from 2021 onwards.
Obtaining this electronic travel authorization can be easily achieved through the ETIAS online application. ETIAS requirements are simple and straightforward and will aid in the prevention of illegal immigration as well as increasing safety within Europe.
Germany is the second nation with the most bordering countries in Europe, only being exceeded by Russia. The German land border spans 3712 kilometers in length.
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)
Before crossing into German from any of the aforementioned borders, eligible citizens will be required to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver, starting 2021.