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BREXIT

Europe & You: An interesting new Brexit poll and what’s Switzerland’s problem with the EU?

Here's our latest Europe & You newsletter covering everything from a French warning for Boris Johnson, an interesting new Brexit poll and a look at Switzerland's problem with the EU.

Europe & You: An interesting new Brexit poll and what's Switzerland's problem with the EU?
What's Switzerland's problem with the EU? Photo: happyalexDepositphotos

Hi to all our readers,

First of all a call to help.

British in Europe are hoping to launch a legal campaign over the fact many Britons in the EU were denied a vote in the recent European elections either via their postal or proxy votes.

Did you have problems casting your vote back in the UK? If so read this.

Despite what many Leave voters might have you believe things are not all rosy between Switzerland and the EU.

In fact the Swiss have a big problem with Brussels right now which is preventing them putting pen to paper on a new deal. This article explains all you need to know about the deadlock.

Earlier this month the results of an extensive new Brexit survey were published by YouGov (see below). It makes for interesting viewing and Sue Wilson from Bremain in Spain looks at what it all might mean, especially for the new Tory leader.

All eyes are on the battle to become the next Prime Minister with Boris Johnson leading the race after the first round of votes.

EU leaders will no doubt be bracing themselves for the increasingly likely event that Johnson moves in to Number 10, not least because he said that he would refuse to pay Britain's divorce bill until the EU agreed better withdrawal terms.

We will see if he sticks to this stance but the French had a word of warning for him this week. There may be trouble ahead. In fact there definitely will be trouble ahead.

Another of the candidates to be Tory leader is Jeremy Hunt who has suggested German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him the EU would be open to renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement. But did she really?

And the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier had this to say on the matter on Friday:  “I repeat calmly that the United Kingdom still wants to leave the European Union… so the agreement that is on the table is the only agreement possible for an orderly withdrawal.”

Everyone has had different ways of dealing with the Brexit vote. Some have taken up campaigning, other have buried their heads in the sand, while others reacted in more extreme ways, like one British man who is so angry about the Brexit he's decided to walk it off over several weeks.

Here are a selection of stories from around Europe that might interest you.

Spain: What you need to know if you are in a road traffic accident in Spain

France: How France killed its small towns and why money is not the answer

Germany: Why it's a myth you need to know German to get a job

Sweden: How teen activist Greta Thunberg is forcing the aviation industry to change

Denmark: How robots are helping out at Danish hospitals

Switzerland: Switzerland ranked worst in Europe for being family-friendly

Italy: The 25 stats that help explain Italy today

Remember, if you want to follow The Local more closely you can download our phone Apps from the Apple or Play store for both Android and Apple phones.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

Ben McPartland
[email protected]
Managing Editor, The Local Europe

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: Which Schengen area countries have border controls in place and why?

Borders within Europe's Schengen area are meant to be open but several countries have checks in place but are they legal and will they be forced to scrap them? Claudia Delpero explains the history and what's at stake.

EXPLAINED: Which Schengen area countries have border controls in place and why?

The European Court of Justice has recently said that checks introduced by Austria at the borders with Hungary and Slovenia during the refugee crisis of 2015 may not be compatible with EU law.

Austria has broken the rules of the Schengen area, where people can travel freely, by extending temporary controls beyond 6 months without a new “serious threat”.

But Austria is not the only European country having restored internal border checks for more than six months.

Which countries have controls in place and what does the EU Court decision mean for them? 

When can EU countries re-introduce border checks?

The Schengen area, taken from the name of the Luxembourgish town where the convention abolishing EU internal border controls was signed, includes 26 states: the EU countries except for Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and Romania, plus Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, which are not EU members.

The Schengen Borders Code sets the rules on when border controls are permitted. It says that checks can be temporarily restored where there is a “serious threat to public policy or internal security”, from the organisation of a major sport event to a terrorist attack such as those seen in Paris in November 2015.

However, these checks should be a “last resort” measure, should be limited to the period “strictly necessary” to respond to the threat and not last more than 6 months.

In exceptional circumstances, if the functioning of the entire Schengen area is at risk, EU governments can recommend that one or more countries reintroduce internal border controls for a maximum of two years. The state concerned can then continue to impose checks for another six months if a new threat emerges. 

Which countries keep border checks in place?

Countries reintroducing border controls have to notify the European Commission and other member states providing a reason for their decision. 

Based on the list of notifications, these countries currently have controls in place at least at some of their borders: 

Norway – until 11 November 2022 at ferry connections with Denmark, Germany and Sweden. These measures have been in place since 2015 due to terrorist threats or the arrival of people seeking international protection and have sometimes extended to all borders.

Austria – until November 2022 11th, since 2015, at land borders with Hungary and with Slovenia due to risks related to terrorism and organised crime and “the situation at the external EU borders”. 

Germany – until November 11th 2022, since November 12th 2021, at the land border with Austria “due to the situation at the external EU borders”.

Sweden – until November 11th 2022, since 2017, can concern all borders due to terrorist and public security threats and “shortcomings” at the EU external borders. 

Denmark – until November 11th 2022, since 2016, can concern all internal borders due to terrorist and organised criminality threats or migration.

France – until October 31st 2022 since 2015, due to terrorist threats and other events, including, since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic.

Estonia – until May 21st 2022, from April 22nd 2022, at the border with Latvia “to facilitate the entry and reception of people arriving from Ukraine”.

Norway, Austria, Germany and France also said they are operating checks on non-EU citizens. 

Can Schengen rules survive?

Despite the exceptional nature of these measures, there have been continuous disruptions to the free movement of people in the Schengen area in the past 15 years. 

Since 2006, there have been 332 notifications of border controls among Schengen countries, with increasing frequency from 2015. In addition, 17 countries unilaterally restored border controls at the start of the pandemic. 

In December 2021, the Commission proposed to reform the system to ensure that border controls remain an exception rather than becoming the norm. 

According to the proposals, countries should consider alternatives to border controls, such as police cooperation and targeted checks in border regions. 

When controls are restored, governments should take measures to limit their impacts on border areas, especially on the almost 1.7 million people who live in a Schengen state but work in another, and on the internal market, especially guaranteeing the transit of “essential” goods. 

Countries could also conclude bilateral agreements among themselves for the readmission of people crossing frontiers irregularly, the Commission suggested. 

If border controls have been in place for 6 months, any notification on their extension should include a risk assessment, and if restrictions are in place for 18 months, the Commission will have to evaluate their necessity. Temporary border controls should not exceed 2 years “unless for very specific circumstances,” the Commission added. 

At a press conference on April 27th, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said the EU Court ruling about Austria is in line with these proposals.

“What the court says is that member states have to comply with the time limit that is in the current legislation. Of course we can propose another time limit in the legislation… and the court also says that it’s necessary for member states, if they would like to prolong [the border controls] to really do the risk assessment on whether it’s really necessary… and that’s exactly what’s in our proposal on the Schengen Border Code.”

Criticism from organisations representing migrants

It is now for the European Parliament and EU Council to discuss and adopt the new rules.

A group of migration organisations, including Caritas Europe, the Danish Refugee Council, Oxfam International and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) have raised concerns and called on the EU institutions to modify the Commission proposals.

In particular, they said, the “discretionary nature” of controls in border regions risk to “disproportionately target racialised communities” and “practically legitimise ethnic and racial profiling and expose people to institutional and police abuse.”

Research from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in 2021, the groups noted, shows that people from an ‘ethnic minority, Muslim, or not heterosexual’ are disproportionately affected by police stops.

The organisations also criticize the definition of people crossing borders irregularly as a threat and a new procedure to “transfer people apprehended… in the vicinity of the border area” to the authorities of the country where it is assumed they came from without any individual assessment. 

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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