Ideological support for borderless travel in Europe should not come before Member State’s internal security concerns, warned ECR Finish MEP Jussi Halla-Aho following a vote in the European Parliament today.

MEPs were voting on rules aimed at governing the duration that a Member State can reintroduce temporary border controls within the Schengen area where they have identified internal security concerns, such as an ongoing terror threat. Currently Member States in the Schengen area are permitted to temporarily reintroduce border controls for a maximum of six months but only under certain limited cases.

The ECR Group have argued that the possible duration of temporary controls should be extended to two years, with the option to extend this by up to five years if the security concerns persist, as well as widening the criteria under which the controls can be reintroduced. However, the European Commission proposal offered one year with the possibility of an extension for a further year, while the report adopted today reduced the extension to just two months and added stricter criteria for when to apply the temporary controls.

“Member States are best placed to decide if it is necessary to reintroduce temporary border controls, based on internal security assessments and their overriding responsibility to protect their citizens. The current options for reintroducing the controls are not fit-for-purpose and do not give Members of the Schengen zone the flexibility they need. Putting ideological concerns such as passport free travel ahead of the need to protect internal security is irresponsible,” said Speaking after the vote, Jussi Halla Aho, who followed the proposals for the ECR Group.