Wednesday, June 2, 2021

S&D Wants EU Commission to Rewrite Schengen Rules to Prevent Border Controls From Becoming the New Normal

The S&D Group, European Parliament’s leading centre-left political group and the second-largest group in the parliament, wants the EU Commission to set out a clear strategy for preventing the introduction of border controls within the Schengen Area from becoming the new normal.

In a press release issued today, just before the EU Commission unfolded its new strategy to make Schengen Area “stronger and more resilient”, the S&D Group issued a press release urging the Commission to come forward with a strategy that would set out a clear timeline for reforming the Schengen Borders Code later in 2021.

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,” the press release reads.

The press release follows a call of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee last week to reform the Schengen Area in an annual report drafted by MEP Tanja Fajon, also an S&D member.

Commenting on the report, which pointed classified the border controls currently in place, and those that have been prolonger since 2015 as unlawful, MEP Fajon asserted that the Coronavirus pandemic has heightened the threats under which Schengen has been for some years.

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,” the MEP said.

In the name of the S&D Group, MEP Fajon called on the Commission “to come forward with a revision of the Schengen Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism that makes a difference.”

She also said the group demands from the Commission to put the freedom of movement back on track through:

  • The drafting of regular reports on the state of the Schengen Area
  • Carrying out unannounced visits from the Commission to assess the situation on the ground
  • Action plans carried out by the governments to remedy any problems

According to the S&D Group, the reform of the Schengen regulation is urgently needed in order to stop any disproportionate and unnecessary restrictions on free movement.

The new Strategy the Schengen area stronger and more resilient has been presented today from the EU Commission, which among others, proposes the revision of the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism, which would include accelerating the evaluation process as well as a fast-track procedure in case of significant deficiencies that could put Schengen as a whole at risk.

There will also be more political focus on Schengen evaluations as their results will be included in the annual report on the State of Schengen and discussed with the European Parliament and the Council. The revised mechanism includes enhanced monitoring for the respect of fundamental rights,” the Commission said in a press release unfolding the proposal.

And lastly, the Commission said that it would launch a dialogue with Member States in order to address the long-lasting reintroductions of controls at internal borders by some of them. It, however, did not include the measures proposed by the S&D Groups today in this regard.

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