The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said Tuesday that it was not ruling out allowing member states of the Schengen zone to reintroduce border controls for up to two years.
To cope with the migration crisis, the European Union interior ministers asked the commission to consider the extension of border checks at a meeting Monday in Amsterdam.
Member states of the Schengen zone, comprising more than 20 countries and over 400 million people that currently do not require passports or other border controls, would be called upon to inform the commission about their security concerns. The commission would then review their reports before approving the reintroduction of controls.
The commission said Thursday that it did not think that the situation was serious enough to warrant the extension, but it was considering options available to it under Article 26 of Schengen code.
Presently, Article 26 entitles member states, which includes most European Union countries, to reintroduce internal border controls for a maximum of up to two years under exceptional circumstances.
Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member Norway have introduced temporary controls in response to the migrant crisis, but they are limited to six months. Poland is considering similar measures.
The introduction of the temporary border checks has raised fears that the passport-free Schengen zone, a symbol of European unity, freedom and prosperity, could collapse.