The changes aim to make the rules clearer for temporarily putting back border checks. They also give member states better tools to control external borders during crises.
New Rules Address Use of Migrants for Political Aims
A key issue tackled is the use of migrant flows to try to destabilize the EU.
The new measures allow EU states to limit border crossing points or hours. This would happen when migration is encouraged to undermine the EU or its members.
The code defines instrumentalization as a third country facilitating migrant movement toward EU external borders for political reasons.
The reforms enable all Schengen countries to rapidly counter these efforts together.
Clearer Criteria for Internal Border Checks
Protecting easy travel within the EU is still a priority. However, the updated code also makes the rules clearer for temporarily reintroducing internal border checks.
These would only happen as a last resort for serious public policy or security threats that cannot be managed otherwise.
Member states now have to assess the need, proportionality, and effectiveness of planned checks before using them.
There are also clearer time limits. Initial emergency checks are restricted to one month and extended checks to six-month periods, for a maximum of two years.
Alternatives Encouraged to Border Checks
To maximize free movement in the Schengen Zone, alternatives to checks are promoted, such as increased police cooperation, intelligence sharing, and joint operations.
By using these tools, states can address security issues while avoiding EU travel disruptions from border checks.
Streamlined procedures to transfer irregular migrants across internal borders are also introduced.
External Border Controls Aligned for Health Emergencies
Learning from COVID-19, the updated code allows the EU to rapidly impose harmonized travel limits during major public health crises across borders.
In serious outbreaks, the European Council can enact binding health measures for entering the Schengen Area, like testing, quarantine, and self-isolation.
ETIAS Launch Also Expected to Improve Security
Alongside the border code changes, implementing the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in 2025 should further strengthen security and migration management in the Schengen zone once in effect.
ETIAS will require pre-travel authorization and risk assessment of visitors from over 60 countries before entering the Schengen Area. This aims to address irregular migration and identify potential security threats early.
Reforms for Stronger, More United Schengen Area
The border code amendments and ETIAS rollout reflect the EU’s commitment to maintaining seamless internal movement while addressing external border challenges smarter and more collectively.
With member state collaboration on proper implementation, the reforms aim to future-proof Schengen benefits for European citizens, businesses, and visitors.