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Border controls widen the impact of the European migrant situation

Over the weekend of September 12 and 13 Germany, Slovakia, and the Netherlands imposed border controls in an effort to manage the influx of migrants and refugees into the region. While the migrant crisis has largely been an isolated issue for those traveling and working in the region, the imposition of border controls will be felt more widely.  The resumption of border controls — which in 1995 ceased within the European Union under the Schengen Agreement — is a significant step and signals that governments in the region may take increasingly stringent measures in an effort to manage the ongoing situation.

While risk to those working or traveling in the region from this situation remains low, it is important to take some basic, practical measures to reduce potential impact:

  • Maintain a high degree of situational awareness to understand how the unfolding events may impact travel and freedom of movement.  If traveling across land borders into impacted areas, be prepared for border controls including inspection of passports and vehicles.  Currently this impacts travel across some parts of Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia, however as the situation develops this could expand with little or no warning.
  • Keep travel documents on hand and available for inspection.  Retain copies of passports, visas and other travel documents as a back-up (always a good practice).
  • If traveling by train in Germany, Austria and Hungary confirm status of your train prior to departing for the station.  Train travel on certain lines in and between these countries has been periodically delayed and even temporarily halted by authorities.  Beyond the disruption of travel, train stations have becoming crowded with migrants in some locations.
  • Avoid demonstrations or other large gatherings.  Demonstrations have occurred periodically throughout Europe and are likely to continue. Largely peaceful, occasional violence has occurred, such as in Hamburg, Germany on September 12th when demonstrators began breaking windows and attacking police, prompting police to use water cannon and tear gas. If you find yourself in the vicinity of a demonstration or other large gathering, move away quickly to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time should violence develop.