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No 18 (October 99/Octobre 99/Oktober 99)
The European Commission has adopted a favourable opinion on the request by the United Kingdom to take part in certain provisions of the Schengen acquis, relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, to narcotic drugs, and to the Schengen Information System. In its opinion, the Commission takes note of the request by the United Kingdom, whilst affirming its belief that this cooperation should in due course be extended to the aspects of freedom of movement covered by the Schengen acquis. The Commission recommends to the Council of Ministers that it should in principle view the United Kingdom's request favourably and examine any technical difficulties which arise with regard to the parts of the acquis in which the United Kingdom has requested to participate. The Commission stresses that the request to participate in parts of the Schengen acquis should in no way affect the proper working of the whole acquis between the states which are signatories to the Schengen Agreements.
The Schengen Convention provides for the abolition of checks on individuals at internal frontiers, plus accompanying measures to guarantee the security of the citizens (including checks at external frontiers, visas and freedom of movement for third-country citizens, measures to combat illegal immigration, police cooperation, mutual assistance in criminal matters, measures to combat drugs, and an information exchange system, SIS, notably on persons not to be admitted).
The Convention was signed on 19 June 1990 by France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and all Member States except the United Kingdom and Ireland have since also signed. The Schengen acquis was incorporated into the framework of the EU with the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam on 1 May 1999 (see SMN 17).
In accordance with Article 4, second indent, of the protocol integrating the Schengen acquis into the framework of the EU, the United Kingdom and Ireland may at any time request to take part in some or all of the provisions of this acquis, and the Council must decide on the request with the unanimity of the 13 signatory States to the Schengen Agreements and the representative of the Government of the Member State concerned.
Jan De Ceuster
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