New snap restrictions could be placed on EU travel. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


European institutions have agreed to revise the Schengen Code in order to respond to new threats, such as the use of migrants as a political weapon and reduce temporary border closures between EU countries.

Smooth movement across our internal borders and the security of our external borders are the two cornerstones of the Schengen area. The agreement reached today to revise the Schengen border code will clarify and strengthen these two pillars,” said Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, whose country is chairing the EU this semester.

The new rules will allow countries to take measures to manage the EU’s external borders, for example by limiting the number of border crossings, reducing opening hours and intensifying border surveillance.

According to the new rules, if threats to public order or security are unforeseeable, controls can be introduced immediately, to be notified at the same time to the Commission, other Member States and the European Parliament.

In that case, they will be limited to a maximum period of one month and may only be extended for a maximum of three months.

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Another case is foreseeable threats.
In this case, they may remain in force for a period of up to six months and may be extended for renewable periods of six months, with a maximum duration of two years.

In major exceptional situations due to a persistent threat, internal border controls may be extended beyond two years, for a maximum of six additional months, renewable once for a total duration of one year.

Rules are also foreseen to promote effective alternatives to internal border controls.
A new procedure is included for responding to “unauthorized movements” in joint police operations and allowing member states to review existing readmission agreements between them or conclude pacts.

Under the new Schengen border code, the Council can adopt a decision to allow temporary travel restrictions at the external border if a large-scale public health emergency occurs.

During the pandemic, the EU could only issue non-binding recommendations to member states.
The decision may also include health-related travel restrictions such as testing, quarantine and self-isolation.