Germany to relax border checks with neighbouring countries

Germany will relax border controls with European neighbours today after a month-long extension of travel restrictions. The government hopes borders

German police monitor border checks along the Austrian border

Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

Germany will relax border controls with European neighbours today after a month-long extension of travel restrictions.

The government hopes borders will be completely open by June 15, with only random checks to be administered in the interim. A majority of states within the Schengen Area have instituted emergency border checks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The pandemic has dealt another serious blow to the bloc, which has yet to conclude tangled Brexit trade negotiations, and the unprecedented threat to the Schengen Agreement may be a portent of irrevocable damage. Proponents of free internal movement are now on the defensive, hamstrung by the agreement’s failure to mitigate the deadly consequences of Italy’s delayed national response. However, a prolonged freeze could induce seasonal labour shortages in countries like Germany, which relies heavily on transnational workers from eastern Europe.

Expect Schengen’s role in the bloc’s heavy economic reliance on labour migrations and tourism—which comprises roughly one-tenth of the EU’s total output—to outlast the current rise in Euroscepticism. While the legal stipulations governing the agreement are unlikely to be compromised due to the ongoing security threat, the reinstatement of open borders will nonetheless pose a significant challenge for EU member states in the coming months.

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