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Germany to enforce tighter border controls for Euro 2024 tournament

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Germany to enforce tighter border controls for Euro 2024 tournament
A police officer from the Bavarian border police inspects vehicles entering from Austria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tobias C. Köhler

The threat posed by Islamists is great, authorities say, and criminals, hooligans and other violent criminals are also a concern. So there will be heightened controls at Germany's borders for Euro 2024.

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Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) has announced temporary controls at all German borders for the European Football Championship in the summer.

"We will carry out temporary border controls at all German borders during the tournament in order to be able to prevent possible violent offenders from entering," Faeser told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

This is necessary in order to protect the European Championship in the best possible way, she added.

The focus is on protection against Islamists and other extremists, hooligans and other violent criminals, as well as securing the country against cyber attacks: "We are keeping a close eye on these current threats," Faeser explained. 

The European Football Championship kicks off in Munich on June 14th and runs until the final in Berlin on July 14th.

Germany has often carried out temporary border controls when major international events take place in the country, including the 2006 World Cup.

Since mid-February that the Federal Ministry of the Interior extended controls at the land borders with Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland until mid-June. The main focus is on the fight against smugglers and irregular migration.

In addition to the controls introduced in October at the borders with the three neighbouring countries, they have also been in place at the border with Austria since autumn 2015, where they are still limited until around mid-May.

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Police union considers security authorities to be well equipped

The police union (GdP) considers the security authorities to be well equipped to protect the European Championship.

The deputy federal chairman of the GDP, Alexander Poitz, told the Rheinische Post that there is a sophisticated security concept that ranges from targeted entry controls to drone defence.

At the same time, it should not be overlooked that the police must not only protect the stadiums, but also the numerous public viewing areas and other places where many people were during the European Championship.

READ ALSO: How to get tickets for Euro 2024 in Germany

There can be no absolute security, Poitz emphasised. "But we shouldn't talk about a terrorist attack either," he stated. "That would only benefit the terrorists."

After the devastating terrorist attack on a concert hall near Moscow, the German security authorities have not changed their assessment of the Islamist threat to Germany.

A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior on Monday in Berlin said: "This was already high, as shown by the measures taken by the security authorities against ISPK terror suspects."

READ ALSO: Two men held in Germany over Swedish parliament terror plot

Faeser assumes that the Islamic State Khorasan Province Group (ISPK), known as an offshoot of the Islamic State (IS), is responsible for the attack.

Nancy Faeser (SPD)

Nancy Faeser (SPD), Federal Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs, announces border controls for the Euro Championship during the 157th session of the Bundestag. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

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Union calls for more powers for police

In view of the threat situation, the CDU/CSU opposition parties (the Union) are calling for more powers for the police and intelligence services in Germany.

The German security authorities need similar investigative instruments as foreign intelligence services in the defence against terrorist attacks, said the parliamentary secretary of the Union parliamentary group, Thorsten Frei, in the Augsburger Allgemeine.

These included online searches and the evaluation of video surveillance using facial recognition and artificial intelligence. This is not only important for counter-terrorism, but also in the classic fight against crime, the Union parliament secretary suggests.

How will border controls affect you?

Non-EU citizens living in Germany always need to carry both residence permits and passports at border crossings, and this is especially important whenever border controls are expected.

READ ALSO: Do you always need to carry your residence card in Germany?

Remember that border controls don't always happen at the border itself. Border security authorities may board a train to conduct a control after the train has already entered Germany, for example. 

So it is advisable to carry your valid residence permit and ID documents whenever you travel close to border areas.

German or EU citizens aren't required to carry a passport when crossing borders within the Schengen area, but need to have an ID that confirms their EU citizenship, like a German national ID card.

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