Border checks at Germany’s land borders with Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland: European Commission notified
16 October 2023
Package of static and mobile border checks available to the Federal Police / Also: notification to the European Commission of continued temporary border checks at the land border with Austria.
In order to combat human smuggling all the more effectively and to restrict irregular migration, the Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser has today notified the European Commission that temporary border checks will be carried out at Germany’s land borders with Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The Commission has also been notified of continued temporary border checks at the land border with Austria.
This means that the Federal Police will now be using the same methods at the borders with Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland that they have long been using at the border with Austria. In recent weeks, there have already been flexible, targeted checks. In addition, random checks throughout the border regions have increased considerably, and joint patrols with Polish and Czech border police have been conducted on their respective territories. We also have a joint action plan with Switzerland. These measures are to be continued in close coordination with Germany’s neighbouring countries.
Federal Minister Faeser said:
“The migrant smuggling business is becoming more and more brutal and unscrupulous. We were deeply shocked by the awful deaths of seven people last Friday night as they were smuggled across the German-Austrian border. We must now take all possible measures to put a stop to this cruel business which has so little regard for people’s lives. At the same time, we need effective limits on irregular migration in order to ease the burden on our municipalities.
The Federal Police can now act flexibly according to the situation at hand, choosing from a whole package of static and mobile border policing measures. Having notified the Commission of the checks at the Polish, Czech and Swiss land borders, we now have a legal basis for these measures. We are in close contact with our neighbouring countries and the relevant German federal states to ensure that all measures are coordinated on both sides of our borders in the best way possible. In coordination with Switzerland, we have decided to expand our measures once again on the basis of our joint action plan. At the same time, it is especially important to me that these checks have as little impact as possible on commuters, trade and travel.
Last year, we allocated an additional 1,000 posts to the Federal Police, and we can see how crucial this reinforcement was. It means that the Federal Police are well-equipped for the border checks, which have now been further intensified. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Federal Police officers for their great dedication.
But one thing is also clear: as soon as possible, we want to revert to a situation where checks at internal Schengen borders are not required. The Common European Asylum System (CEAS), which would ensure comprehensive protection of the EU’s external borders, is crucial in this regard. We need to finalise EU legislation on this now.”
The Federal Police will continue to carry out border policing measures at flexible locations and times, and along different smuggling routes, according to how the situation develops. This should also help prevent smugglers from using alternative routes. Depending on the intensity with which they are carried out, the checks may have an impact on cross-border traffic, but this should be avoided as far as possible. When they identify an illegal entrant, depending on the circumstances of the individual case, officers may implement measures to end that person’s residence or to prevent them from entering Germany in the first place. As is currently the case, third-country nationals requesting protection are generally taken to an initial reception centre to have their asylum case reviewed, and, if applicable, may be transferred to another EU member state in accordance with the Dublin Regulation. The same applies to the temporary checks at internal Schengen borders.
Illegal migrant smuggling at Germany’s borders with Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland has further increased. By the beginning of October of this year, the Federal Police had already registered around 98,000 illegal entries into Germany. By comparison, in 2022, there were around 92,000 illegal entries in total. Smuggling is thought to account for one in four illegal entries by third-country nationals into Germany.
This year, the Federal Police has already registered more than 1,550 smuggling activities and approximately 1,700 smugglers across Germany. People are frequently smuggled dangerously in closed cargo vehicles. The smugglers are becoming more reckless and aggressive towards the people they are smuggling and towards the police officers carrying out checks – for instance by breaking through road blocks.
The notification regarding border checks at the land borders with the Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland is initially valid for ten days from 16 October 2023 and can be extended for up to two months. The notification to the European Commission of continued border checks at the land border with Austria is valid for another six months from 12 November 2023. The legal basis for this is Article 25 et seqq. of the Schengen Borders Code (Regulation (EU) 2016/399).