EU interior ministers have agreed to press ahead with plans to suspend the Schengen passport-free travel zone, in a move that paves the way for governments to introduce border checks for up to two years.
At a ministerial meeting in Brussels, Germany led support for the proposal as part of a series of measures aimed at alleviating the refugee crisis, which has revealed cracks in the EU's emblematic border control-free area.
The plan to allow states to impose temporary border controls was floated this week by Luxembourg, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Council.
Berlin triggered a wave of tit-for-tat temporary border checks and closures this summer as countries on the so-called western Balkans route — which stretches from Greece through the former Yugoslavia and into Austria — struggled to cope with the influx of migrants travelling along it.
Speaking after the meeting, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's minister for migration, said: "The ministers agreed that if there are serious shortcomings that endanger the area, then we need to have a common European framework to deal with borders over and above six months."