Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Germany will suspend the passport-free travel arrangements of the Schengen Treaty during the 2006 World Cup.
Citing the need to minimize risks from hooligans, terrorists and organized-crime gangs, Schäuble informed European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana that Germany will reintroduce border checks during the World Cup, which it is hosting this summer.
Since the signing of the Schengen Treaty in 1985, Western European travellers have been able to cross certain borders without showing their passports. Fifteen nations have now implemented the agreement, whose goal was to end border checkpoints within the territory of the member nations and harmonize external border controls
The treaty does, however, allow member countries to reinstate border controls for a short period if they consider this to be in the interest of national security.
For example, France reimposed border controls when it held ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day in June, 2004. That same year, Portugal reintroduced checks during the European Football Championships. Finland did the same during the 2005 World Championships in Athletics, held in Helsinki last August.
In a statement, Schäuble said there is no concrete indication of a possible threat to the World Cup, but Germany wanted to do everything possible to assure the security of the games. Germany shares borders with six Schengen countries: Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Austria.
Germany has allocated 2,000 soldiers for World Cup security, with a further 5,000 available in the event of an emergency. But Schäuble stressed that the fun element of the event would not be spoiled by excessive security.
The World Cup kicks off June 9, when Germany hosts Costa Rica in the southern city of Munich. There will be a total of 64 matches over the course of a month. The final will be held at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.