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Strengthening Schengen

16/09/2011

The European Commission proposed today to strengthen the EU's area without internal borders by enhancing the evaluation and monitoring of the application of the Schengen rules and by setting out a mechanism for the reintroduction of some internal border controls as a last resort.

This mechanism will not make it any easier to reintroduce internal border controls, but rather, it will ensure that a coordinated EU response is available to protect the functioning and the integrity of the Schengen Area as a common good shared by 400 million people. It would only apply in exceptional circumstances. This could be the case, for example, when an EU State fails to adequately protect a part of the EU's external border (based on a critical evaluation under the Schengen evaluation mechanism) or is unable to do so because of exceptional migratory pressure, but only as a last resort measure and if all alternative steps have failed to improve the situation. Under the new regime, a decision on the reintroduction of internal border controls would be taken at the European level (current rules allow national authorities to reintroduce border controls in case of a serious threat to public policy or internal security). As a general rule, controls could then be allowed at designated borders for a period of 30 days, renewable for up to 6 months at most (unless the failure of an EU State to adequately protect its section of the external border persists longer). EU States could still take unilateral action to reintroduce border controls when faced with unforeseen emergencies, but only for a period not exceeding 5 days.

The Commission's proposals will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council following the ordinary legislative procedure.

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