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Commission must rewrite Schengen rules to stop border controls becoming the new normal

Date

02 Jun 2021

Sections

Justice & Home Affairs

The S&D Group wants to see the Commission rewrite Schengen rules to reverse the trend of border controls becoming the new normal.

With a proposal to revise the Schengen evaluation mechanism expected later today, we also want the strategy to set out a clear timeline for reforming the Schengen Borders Code later in the year. After a year of uncertainty at the borders, S&D MEPs also want proposals for new rules specifically for health emergencies to guarantee fair and proportionate responses by member states at the borders in the future.

Last week, the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee called for Schengen reform in an annual report drafted by S&D MEP Tanja Fajon. The report pointed to unlawful border controls in place as far back as 2015 and highlighted the Commission’s failure to take any legal action against member states.

The S&D Group also demand that Bulgaria and Romania are fully integrated members of the Schengen area.

Tanja Fajon, S&D MEP and chair of the Schengen Scrutiny Group, said:

“Schengen has been under threat for some years, heightened by the Covid pandemic. Internal border controls have become the new normal at the expense of people’s right to free movement. Furthermore, there have been no consequences for EU governments that have not acted fairly and proportionately in responding to the pandemic.

Schengen’s struggles go far deeper than the pandemic. We expect the Commission to come forward with a revision of the Schengen Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism that makes a difference. The EU’s external borders are shared borders and that’s why the European Parliament should be on an equal footing with the Council as co-legislator in revising these rules. To put free movement back on track through effective evaluation, we demand regular reports on the state of Schengen, unannounced visits from the Commission to assess the situation on the ground and action plans from governments to remedy any problems. Where the rules are being broken, the status quo of doing nothing cannot go on and we expect the Commission to take EU governments to court to stop any disproportionate and unnecessary restrictions on free movement. 

Reform is urgently needed. We want to see Parliament’s demands properly reflected in the Commission’s new proposals, with concrete solutions to put an end to the perpetual border controls that some member states insist on.”

 

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