The European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee on October 22 backed proposals to update rules governing the EU’s Schengen border free travel zone.
The report makes clear that temporary current border controls that were reintroduced by six countries during the refugee crisis are no longer justified and should be removed as soon as possible. It also outlines clearer rules on under which circumstances border controls can be reintroduced in the future and places stricter time limits on how long they can last.
“The Schengen area is one of the great success stories of the European Union. The ability to travel freely without being subject to border checks and controls makes our lives easier and our economies stronger. However, the integrity of the Schengen area is under threat. Measures that were supposed to be temporary are still in place three years later – with no sign from national governments that they are going to be ended soon. These internal border checks clearly violate EU law and should be abolished as soon as possible,” said S&D Group vice-president and Parliament negotiator for the revision of the Schengen border code, Tanja Fajon.
“Today we backed new rules to ensure that in the future temporary internal border controls would last for a maximum period of one year. There will also be stricter safeguards to ensure that they are used solely for the purpose they were originally introduced. Over the last few years, national governments have pushed the limits of the current rules, extending controls for political purposes rather than out of necessity. The data is clear, this does not improve our security, all it does is damage our economies and makes our lives less convenient. We are disappointed that the centre-right in the Parliament attempted to block these measures to strengthen the Schengen area. For us, freedom of movement is the cornerstone of the EU and we will never stop fighting to protect it,” she added.