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EU border controls to get another 3-month extension

Border controls in the passport-free Schengen area should be extended for three months, the EU has recommended. Increased checks were introduced following the European migrant crisis.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, is to put the three-month extension request to member states, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The recommendation is almost certain to be approved.

The decision means people arriving into Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU Norway will continue to face border checks.

The new three-month period will begin on November 13.

The EU had said it wanted to restore full functioning with no border controls across the Schengen area - which includes 22 EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - by the end of the year.

But the extension has been recommended by the Berlin, Vienna and Copenhagen governments amid concerns that migrants are continuing to travel to northern Europe due to the large numbers still held in refugee camps in Greece.

The commission said that five countries have been swamped by asylum requests.

It noted, however, that an EU-Turkey deal in March had sharply reduced the number of people from war-torn Syria  and other countries who crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece, the main entry point to Europe last year.

Last likely extension

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said this extension was likely to be the last, especially as the beefed-up European Border and Coast Guard force will be fully operational by January.

"We believe that these three months will be the end of this period (of controls) and we shall be back normally to the full functioning of Schengen," he told a press conference.

Italy and several central European states have criticized the extension plans, arguing that migration pressures have dropped off.

Last year's influx of more than one million asylum seekers was the worst migrant crisis since World War II, and raised fears of a collapse of the Schengen system, one of the EU's most cherished achievements.

Watch video 02:03

What is the Schengen Agreement?

mm/rc (AFP, AP)

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