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With Schengen at risk, S&Ds lead calls for urgent change

Date

07 Jul 2021

Sections

Justice & Home Affairs

The European Parliament has given the Schengen area an annual check-up and the diagnosis is not good. Today, the European Parliament is voting on the report drafted by S&D MEP Tanja Fajon, with calls to fully restore and protect free movement in the EU.

In the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area, MEPs are concerned that even prior to the pandemic, internal borders were the new norm. Since 2015, member states reintroduced internal border controls 275 times, compared to just 35 times between 2006 and 2014. Throughout this time, the Commission has failed to ensure rule breakers face the consequences.

Therefore, the S&D Group is calling for urgent reform of the Schengen Borders Code to improve the coordination of measures by member states in response to crises. MEPs also address the role of Frontex at the EU’s external borders, condemning all violence, pushbacks and human rights violations against migrants.

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

“Schengen has been at risk for years, but the pandemic has heightened the threat to free movement. Internal border controls have become the new normal, at the expense of people’s right to free movement. We need to revise the rules that govern the Schengen area so that they are fit for purpose. To save free movement from a gradual demise, the Schengen Borders Code needs an urgent revision as well. When they fail to stick to the rules set out in EU law, both the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, and governments, as signatories of the Treaties, are completely failing EU citizens. We want to see the Commission use its powers to make sure free movement is preserved and deal with member states that break the code. The European Parliament should have a greater role in protecting the integrity of Schengen that EU citizens cherish.”                           

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

“You do not have to be an expert to see that both the Commission and the member states have failed to defend borderless travel in the EU in recent years. While the pandemic has accentuated issues like a lack of coordinated responses from EU governments, some deep-rooted problems already existed long before Covid-19. We are ready to revise the rules to protect the Schengen area from the erratic whims of governments. When it comes to the EU’s external borders, the report rightly condemns the violence, pushbacks and human rights violations against migrants. The alleged involvement of Frontex in pushbacks shows a need for much more public scrutiny of its operations. Under its current leadership, internal reporting mechanisms are failing to protect fundamental rights and vulnerable people seeking international protection. This must change and for that to happen, it is clear that Frontex needs fresh leadership.”

 

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