Border Control Issues in Europe: Will They Affect You?

Sep 15, 2015

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Whether they’re economic migrants or political refugees, the recent influx of people into the European Union has outshone the Greek crisis as the number-one issue affecting the 28-country bloc. The stories and images coming from this part of the world have invoked outrage, sympathy and calls to strike a balance between welcoming the newcomers and managing their numbers.


This latest wave of migration has its roots in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring, although ISIS and the escalation of Syria’s civil war have led to the most recent surge in numbers. While last week the EU announced plans for accepting migrants and refugees, this week’s headlines have been dominated by news of razor-wire fences, suspended train service and control checkpoints where previously there was border-free travel.

So, what does this mean for the wave of Western travelers to Europe who are taking advantage of still-mild weather and the lack of crowds this autumn? Well, the good news is that flights are unaffected. But let’s take a look at other popular modes of transportation within Europe.

Image courtesy of Spectral-Design / Shutterstock.
The scene at Keleti train station in Budapest. Image courtesy of Spectral-Design / Shutterstock.

First up, trains: Service has been spotty, with Germany suspending train service from Austria, and Denmark doing the same from Germany; all international train travel from Hungary has been canceled as well. As border controls are hastily re-established, train service will resume to varying degrees; that being said, you can expect delays as trains are stopped for document checks on the border, or canceled outright if the surges continue. The Voice of America reports:

In an unprecedented step, German police boarded trains and checked documents of passengers entering from Austria and Hungary. Hundreds of migrants and refugees, mostly from Syria, were escorted off the trains at Freilassing and put in a holding area where they were called, one by one, to be fingerprinted, registered, and boarded on buses for transfer to other parts of Germany.

Those planning a road trip should probably have a Plan B in place, as roads will be clogged at checkpoints. Again, from the Voice of America:

German police were also stopping and searching cars on the highway at the border, snarling traffic for several kilometers. Some motorists said they waited three hours to cross the border on Monday night.

The Mediterranean Sea has become the world's most dangerous border crossing. Image courtesy of Malcolm Chapman /
The Mediterranean Sea is now the world’s most dangerous border crossing. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Mediterranean cruise travel is not affected for the big names, but local operators have been touched by the crisis. This summer, Greece took over several ferry and cruise boats to hold refugees awaiting processing. And Costa Cruises suspended travel to Tunisia and Turkey after terrorist attacks, which means they’re keeping an eye on current events, as well. The Channel crossing between England and France has been a sore spot recently, with migrants awaiting travel to the UK flooding port towns along the Normandy coast as the situation in Calais, France has reached emergency levels.

Are you currently traveling through Europe? If so, please share your stories and observations in the comments below.

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