A bridge over Schengen’s troubled borders

In June 2017, the Court of Justice for the EU issued a decision on the activities the German Bundespolizei was deploying in the French-German border area. Were these activities Schengen-proof police checks or permanent border checks in disguise?

A bridge over Schengen’s troubled borders Source: Arnoguerber [CC BY-SA 3.0] / Wikimedia

Friday 2 June  2017 was an important day for Germany, and more specifically for the German Bundespolizei. Like other countries, Germany had been using the possibility offered by Article 23 of the Schengen Border Code to carry out police checks in intra-Schengen border areas.  After the Dutch and French national legislative frameworks and intra-Schengen border practices had already been assessed in the light of EU Law by the Court of Justice for the EU, it was now Germany’s turn.

Preventing unauthorised entry through ID checks

On 1 April 2014 the plaintiff ‘A’ was walking across the Europabrücke (Europe Bridge) to cross from Strasbourg (France) to Kehl (Germany). After crossing the bridge ‘A’ proceeded directly to the railway station operated by Deutsche Bahn AG, located approximately 500 metres beyond the bridge. This was observed by two officers of the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) on patrol in the area at the front of the railway station.

Based on point (3) of Paragraph 23(1) of the “Gesetz über die Bundespolizei”, the Law on the Federal Police, th