Germany’s decision to reinstate border controls with Austria appears to be legal but the emergency measures should be lifted as soon as possible, the European Commission said.
The German government suspended the European Union’s Schengen open-borders arrangement as authorities in the south of the country struggle to cope with an influx of refugees.
The decision “appears to be a situation covered by the rules” of the Schengen system, which allows for an emergency reintroduction of identity checks “in case of a crisis,” the commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said on Sunday in an e-mailed statement.
The EU’s role will now be to “ensure the proportionality of the exceptional measures” and “help ensure that we can go back to the normal Schengen system of open borders between Schengen member states as soon as feasible,” the commission said.
Germany’s suspension of the 20-year-old arrangement signals that the country needs more help to cope with an estimated 800,000 asylum seekers expected to arrive, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Sunday.
Ministers from EU’s 28 national governments are due to hold a meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss the resettlement across the bloc of 120,000 refugees who have arrived in Greece, Italy and Hungary.