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Revised Schengen Borders Code strengthens free movement in EU

Date

19 Mar 2024

Sections

InfoSociety

In a significant milestone, the European Parliament's home affairs committee has voted to revise the Schengen Borders Code – the rules governing free movement within the Schengen Area. This crucial update aims to strengthen the Schengen Area from unprecedented challenges, such as future pandemics.

Led by the S&D Group, the revised rules negotiated by the European Parliament and the EU Council mean that internal border controls can only be implemented under exceptional circumstances and for clearly limited periods of time. Moreover, member states must provide explicit grounds for seeking to reintroduce controls.

Additionally, the agreement promotes a cohesive response across EU countries in the event of large-scale public-health emergencies by setting a framework for minimum harmonisation of border controls. Furthermore, the revised rules guarantee access to the Schengen Area for specific essential categories of travellers – including citizens, family members and those seeking protection regardless of the circumstances.

Sylvie Guillaume, S&D MEP and European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the revision of the Schengen Borders Code, said:

“The Schengen Area is one of our most cherished achievements, at the very heart of the EU project, allowing unrestricted travel for more than 400 million people. With this agreement, we have protected the free movement of persons while responding to the challenges that the Schengen Area has faced over the last ten years.

“We have insisted on clear and limited timelines for internal border controls, criteria for member states to follow if they want to reintroduce internal border controls, and we have laid down harmonised procedures to be applied at external borders in cases of future pandemics.” 

Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on home affairs, said:

“Free movement and borderless travel is one of the cornerstones of our Union, yet the pandemic and certain member states’ domestic political concerns have exposed how fragile the Schengen Area really is. Internal border controls have become the new normal and it is very clear that we need to revise the rules so that they are fit for purpose.

“The S&D Group has spearheaded this reform in the European Parliament and our efforts have now finally led to an agreement for a comprehensive revision of the Schengen Borders Code. This vote will ensure internal border controls are always strictly limited in time, and it leads the way to restoring Schengen as we know and want it.”

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