What is the change? Following a foiled gun attack on a French train Sunday and a sustained surge of Mediterranean refugees, European leaders are renewing calls to place border controls on travelers in the Schengen area.

What does the change mean? European leaders are meeting to discuss changes ranging from identity and luggage checks to bringing back full national border enforcement.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Changes to policy could have implications for Schengen visas for non-EU nationals and visa-free movement for EU nationals, and applications may take longer to process.
  • Business impact: New policies could slow travel at borders and potentially require additional processing for individual countries.

Background: Talk of reintroducing controls resurfaced in May with the refugee crisis and is receiving renewed interest after a gunman was thwarted on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for a meeting with ministers from Germany, France and the Netherlands. “The Schengen Agreement is important for our economy and our citizens, but we are now faced with new threats in Europe and so we’ll maybe have to move towards new rules in identity and baggage checks,” Michel said.

However, imposing border restrictions would violate the core of the 26-country Schengen free-movement regime. European Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said at a press conference that “freedom of movement is a fundamental European right – this is non-negotiable.” Under the Schengen agreement, member states may institute police checks as long as they do not amount to systematic border controls, he added.

BAL Analysis: Travelers in the Schengen area should expect the possibility of heightened security or stricter rules in the future.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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