The proposal comes amid heightened security concerns.
Schengen Agreement Europe border crossing Luxembourg
Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The European Commission is proposing updating the rules that govern movement throughout the Schengen Area, which includes 26 European states that had previously agreed to remove border control and passport checks at their mutual borders.

Under the proposal, member states would be able to reintroduce temporary border controls for up to three years during times of heightened security concerns.

“The Schengen Border Code rules for reintroducing internal border controls were devised in a different time, with different challenges,” Frans Timmermans, first-vice president of the EC, said in the statement. “The exceptional circumstances that we see now, such as the increased terrorist threat, have led us to propose a Schengen Border Code more fir for purpose in this new day and age.”

The Schengen Area includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

More than 400 million people, including citizens of the EU, tourists, and expats, currently move freely across the borders within the Schengen Area, according to the EU.

Although the proposal would allow countries facing security threats to reintroduce border controls, the European Commission only recommends them as a last resort.

The proposal will need to be approved by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.