Procedure : 2018/2092(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0365/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0365/2018

Debates :

PV 10/12/2018 - 16
CRE 10/12/2018 - 16

Votes :

PV 11/12/2018 - 5.16
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0497

REPORT     
PDF 386kWORD 59k
9.11.2018
PE 623.658v02-00 A8-0365/2018

on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania: abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders

(2018/2092(INI))

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Rapporteur: Sergei Stanishev

AMENDMENTS
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania: abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders

(2018/2092(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Protocol integrating the Schengen acquis into the framework of the European Union (11997D/PRO/02),

–  having regard to Article 4(2) of the 2005 Act of Accession,

–  having regard to the draft Council decisions on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania of 29 September 2010 (14142/2010) and of 8 July 2011 (14142/1/2010),

–  having regard to the draft Council decision on the framework for the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania of 7 December 2011 (14302/3/11),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 8 June 2011 on the draft Council decision on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania(1),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 9 and 10 June 2011, 22 and 23 September 2011, 25 and 26 October 2012, 7 and 9 March 2013, and 5 and 6 December 2013,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 October 2011 on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s eighth biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area of 15 December 2015 (COM(2015)0675),

–  having regard to its resolution of 30 May 2018 on the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area(3),

–  having regard to the Council decision (EU) 2017/1908 of 12 October 2017 on the putting into effect of certain provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Visa Information System in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania(4),

–   having regard to the draft Council decision on 18 April 2018 on the putting into effect of the remaining provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Schengen Information System in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania (15820/1/2017),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 13 June 2018 on the draft Council decision on the putting into effect of the remaining provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Schengen Information System in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania(5),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0365/2018),

A.  whereas Bulgaria and Romania adopted the Schengen acquis upon their accession to the European Union in 2007; whereas in 2008 Bulgaria issued its declaration of readiness to start the evaluations carried out by the Schengen Evaluation Working Group (SCH-EVAL), comprising experts from Schengen Member States; whereas in 2007 and 2008 Romania issued its declaration of readiness to start the evaluations carried out by SCH-EVAL;

B.  whereas the completion of the Schengen evaluation process for Bulgaria and Romania and the state of preparedness of the two countries to implement all the provisions of the Schengen acquis were confirmed by SCH-EVAL experts, and by the Council in its conclusions of 9 and 10 June 2011; whereas in its draft decision of 8 July 2011, the Council verified that the necessary conditions for the application of the Schengen acquis had been met in all areas, namely data protection, air borders, land borders, police cooperation, the Schengen Information System, sea borders and visas; whereas in addition to the challenge of managing external borders of the European Union, the completion of the Schengen evaluation process has entailed both countries fundamentally restructuring their border surveillance systems and investing in increased law enforcement capacity; whereas according to the 2005 Act of Accession, the successful completion of the Schengen evaluation procedures is the only prerequisite for the full application of the Schengen acquis, including the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders; whereas Bulgaria and Romania’s state of preparedness to apply the Schengen acquis in full has been acknowledged by heads of state and government in the Council on multiple occasions, as well as by the Commission and Parliament, most recently in the Commission communication of 27 September 2017 and Parliament’s resolution of 30 May 2018;

C.  whereas in its draft decision of 29 September 2010, the Council proposed the full application of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania and the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders; whereas in its legislative resolution of 8 June 2011, Parliament approved this decision and asked the Council to consult Parliament again if it intended to substantially amend it;

D.  whereas in September 2011 the Council Presidency presented a proposal for partial implementation of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania, namely the abolition of checks at internal sea and air borders only, while envisaging a separate decision, at a subsequent stage, as regards land borders;

E.  whereas in its conclusions the Justice and Home Affairs Council confirmed on multiple occasions its commitment to base any future decision on the abolition of checks at internal borders for Bulgaria and Romania on a two-step approach; whereas the adoption of that decision by the Justice and Home Affairs Council has been repeatedly deferred;

F.  whereas with the Council decision of 12 October 2017 Bulgaria and Romania were granted passive access to the Visa Information System; whereas in its draft decision of 18 April 2018 the Council proposed the full application of the remaining provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Schengen Information System in both Member States;

G.  whereas neither the 2005 Act of Accession nor the Schengen evaluation mechanism provide for setting different timeframes for the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders; whereas all previous enlargements of the Schengen area were established with a single legal act;

H.  whereas the Schengen area is a unique arrangement and one of the greatest achievements of the European Union, allowing the free movement of people through internal Schengen borders; whereas this has been made possible through a variety of compensatory measures, such as the establishment of the Schengen Information System (to reinforce the exchange of information, as well as the creation of an evaluation mechanism to verify the implementation of the Schengen acquis by Member States and foster mutual trust in the functioning of the Schengen area;

I.  whereas the maintenance of internal border controls in the Union and their reintroduction in the Schengen area has a serious impact on the lives of European citizens and all those who benefit from the principle of free movement within the EU, and seriously undermines their trust in the European institutions and integration; whereas this entails direct operational and investment costs for cross-border workers, tourists, road freight transporters and public administrations, with crippling effects on the economies of the Member States and the functioning of the internal market of the EU; whereas the maintenance of internal border controls for Bulgaria and Romania has a negative impact on the exports and imports from and to both Member States, as well as on the transport operations from and to some of Europe’s largest southern civilian fleet and freight ports, meaning lost benefits and increased spending; whereas estimates of the costs linked to the reintroduction of border controls for the European Union range between EUR 0.05 billion and EUR 20 billion in one-off costs and EUR 2 billion in annual operating costs(6);

J.  whereas the maintenance of internal border controls in the Union and their reintroduction in the Schengen area appears linked to a perception of threats to public policy and internal security, rather than sound evidence of the actual existence of a serious threat; whereas the abolition of checks at internal borders as a result of the full application of the Schengen acquis in Member States that have already acceded has not led to higher crime rates; whereas the Schengen enlargement of 2007 is associated with lower acquisitive crime rates in both the newly acceding Schengen Member States and existing Schengen Member States, and has not increased the perception of insecurity among EU citizens(7);

1.  Recalls that all the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen acquis were met by Bulgaria and Romania in 2011;

2.  Regrets the fact that in the seven years since, the Council has failed to take a decision on the full application of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania despite the repeated calls to this end by both the Commission and Parliament;

3.  Considers the proposal for splitting the abolition of checks at internal borders into two legal acts in order to set different timeframes for the abolition of checks at land, sea and air borders a significant departure from the text of the draft Council decision of 29 September 2010 approved by Parliament;

4.  Recalls that the Council may only take a decision on the application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania after consulting Parliament – an obligation stemming from Article 4(2) of the 2005 Act of Accession; reiterates its call on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament in its legislative resolution of 8 June 2011;

5.  Expresses concern that the introduction of a two-step approach could negatively impact the future enlargement of the Schengen area; emphasises that the failure to reach consensus in the Council calls into question the unitary application of the provisions of the EU Treaties and the credibility of the EU, which continuously erodes public support for common EU policies by demonstrating unequal treatment of Member States and their citizens and introducing artificial lines of division within the Union; voices its concern that such practices contribute to the rise of populism and nationalism across the continent, which poses a fundamental challenge to the functioning of the EU;

6.  Underlines the fact that the free movement of persons across internal borders, stemming from the incorporation of the Schengen acquis into the EU legal framework, is one of the main achievements of the EU; stresses that the functioning and enlargement of the Schengen area should not be negatively impacted by shortcomings in other EU policies, such as the Common European Asylum System;

7.  Welcomes the adoption of the Council decision of 12 October 2017 granting Bulgaria and Romania passive access to the Visa Information System and the Council’s proposal for the full application of the remaining provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Schengen Information System in both Member States; regrets the fact that the adoption of these decisions did not immediately follow verification of the successful completion of the Schengen evaluation process in 2011, but was initiated as an ad-hoc measure to ensure compliance with the preconditions for the implementation of the Entry/Exit System, expected to be operational by 2020; considers that these legal acts constitute a step towards closing information gaps between those Member States applying the Schengen acquis in full and those applying it partially; firmly insists that the adoption of these acts should not serve to further delay the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders; notes that with the adoption of these decisions, Bulgaria and Romania will share all the responsibilities and obligations, but not all the benefits, of fully fledged Schengen area membership;

8.  Emphasises that the Schengen acquis was not designed to accommodate Member States with different legal statuses; draws attention to the fact that the Council’s prolonged inaction has created the need for making a clear distinction in EU legislation, relating to information and border management systems, between those Member States applying the Schengen acquis in full and those applying it partially; voices its concern that this legally codifies a de facto parallel existence of a Schengen area with free movement and a Schengen area without free movement, at the risk of information exchange gaps, legislative deficiencies and a lack of connectivity between justice and home affairs systems;

9.  Stresses that with regard to the full application of the Schengen acquis, no additional criteria other than the specified prerequisites laid down in the 2005 Act of Accession should be introduced or links to other Union mechanisms and policies made, including and without prejudice to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism; calls on the Member States to take a decision on the enlargement of the Schengen area solely on the basis of fulfilment of the relevant conditions for applying the Schengen acquis following the completion of the Schengen evaluation process;

10.  Urges the Council to present a new draft decision on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania on the basis of its draft decision of 29 September 2010 (14142/2010) as soon as possible and, by means of a single legal act, take an immediate decision for the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders;

11.  Calls on the Council to apply the same approach to Croatia and confirm the country’s full accession to the Schengen area as soon as it has successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process and the relevant criteria have been met;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1)

OJ C 380 E, 11.12.2012, p. 160.

(2)

OJ C 94 E, 3.4.2013, p. 13.

(3)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0228.

(4)

OJ L 269, 19.10.2017, p. 39.

(5)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0253.

(6)

van Ballegooij, W., ‘The Cost of Non-Schengen: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs aspects’, Cost of Non-Europe Report, European Added Value Unit, 2016, p. 32.

(7)

Ibid, p. 28 & 31.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

I. BACKGROUND

In 2007, pursuant to Article 4(2) of their 2005 Act of Accession to the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania adopted the Schengen acquis. Certain provisions, including the abolition of checks at internal borders, were to apply in Bulgaria and Romania only pursuant to a Council decision to that effect after verification that the necessary conditions have been met. On 9 June 2011, the Council concluded, in accordance with the applicable Schengen evaluation procedures, that the conditions in all the areas of the Schengen acquis relating to Air Borders, Land Borders, Police Cooperation, Data Protection, the Schengen Information System, Sea Borders and Visas had been fulfilled by Bulgaria and Romania. However, the entering into effect of the provisions related to the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders continues to be awaiting a final decision of the Council, where a positive unanimous decision must be taken by all current Schengen Member States.

At the time of the drafting of this report, Bulgaria and Romania apply the Schengen acquis only partially and checks are therefore still carried out at the borders with these two Member States. Since 2011, the Council has confirmed on multiple occasions its commitment to make any further decision on the basis of a ‘two-step’ approach – abolition of checks at internal sea and air borders only, followed by the abolition of checks at internal land borders on an unspecified date with a separate legal act.

The aim of this report is to confirm the Parliament’s position that the Council must a take a decision without further delay on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania as fully-fledged members of the Schengen area. Your Rapporteur believes that this House should stand firmly by the principle that following the successful completion of the Schengen evaluation process in all areas by an acceding country, the Council, after consulting the Parliament, should take an immediate decision to abolish checks at internal land, sea and air borders with a single legal act.

II. TIMELINE

Following the issuance of their declarations of readiness in 2007 and 2008, Bulgaria and Romania underwent a detailed and in-depth Schengen evaluation to determine their preparedness for the application of all parts of the Schengen acquis (Data Protection, the SIS, Air Borders, Land Borders, Sea Borders, Police Cooperation and Visas). On 29 September 2010, the Council published a draft decision for the full application of the Schengen acquis, including the abolition of checks at internal land, sea and air borders, subject to the definitive fulfilment of the necessary conditions. Following the opinion and approval of the European Parliament of 8 June 2011 (as part of a consultation procedure) the Justice and Home Affairs Council confirmed in its conclusions of 9 and 10 June 2011 that the Schengen evaluation process for Bulgaria and Romania has been completed successfully in all areas of the Schengen acquis. However, the Council failed to take a decision on the basis of the legal text consulted with the Parliament and postponed the matter until September 2011.

As a result of the lack of unanimity in the Council, in September 2011 the then-Polish Presidency put forward a compromise proposal for a ‘two-step’ approach. This proposal was submitted as a draft Council decision to the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (Coreper). Even though the draft Council decision represented a significant departure from the text approved by the Parliament, the Council failed to consult the Parliament again as requested in its legislative resolution of 8 June 2011.

The proposal for a ‘two-step’ approach on the abolition of checks at internal borders for Bulgaria and Romania has since been discussed on multiple occasions by the Justice and Home Affairs Council and has also been referred to in public statements by Heads of (Schengen) EU Member States.

III. IMPLICATIONS OF THE PARTIAL APPLICATION OF THE SCHENGEN ACQUIS BY THE TWO MEMBER STATES

Your Rapporteur believes that there are direct negative consequences stemming from the ongoing deferral of the full accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area for the two Member States, but also for the Union as a whole.

Free movement is a core principle of the EU and the ability to move within the Union without facing border checks at internal borders is one of its most successful and tangible achievements. It has strengthened the citizens’ sense of belonging to a common entity of shared freedom, peace and prosperity. By contrast, the failure to extend this achievement to all European citizens fuels EU skepticism, foments a feeling of injustice and erodes the popularity of the EU, ultimately undermining public support for common European actions.

The free movement in the Schengen area has also resulted in significant economic benefits for participating Member States by facilitating the integration of cross-border trade. The study ‘The Cost of Non-Schengen: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs aspects’, commissioned by the Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), draws key conclusions on the negative economic impact of cross border control between the Member States. The costs linked with the reintroduction of border control in the Schengen area are estimated to range between €0.05 billion and €20 billion in one-off costs and between €2 billion and €4 billion in annual operating costs. While there are multiple obstacles to quantifying the exact economic implications for Bulgaria and Romania, your Rapporteur believes that the provided data serves as an indication for the significant economic and social losses for the two countries as a result of the continued deadlock in the Council.

In the public discourse, the enlargement of the Schengen area is often linked to other Union policies, such as the reform of the Common European Asylum System or the ongoing efforts towards an effective Security Union. Your Rapporteur firmly believes that free movement of citizens should not suffer from deficiencies in or be subjected to other Union policies. Providing for the Union’s security requires common action and not fragmentation, while preserving the right balance between freedoms and security. To this end, efforts must be made towards building a coordinated, robust and inclusive legal framework, where all Member States are on equal footing.

The ongoing deferral of Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to the Schengen area, however, is a step in the opposite direction. It creates the need for distinguishing between Members States applying the Schengen acquis in full and Member States applying the Schengen acquis partially in the EU legislation, as well as the necessity for specific measures to avoid gaps and prevent possible deficiencies. The proposal for partial accession of Bulgaria and Romania is a further step towards the legal codification of the de facto co-existence of a Schengen area with free movement and a Schengen area without (or partial) free movement.

In what could be considered a final step before lifting the internal border control for Bulgaria and Romania, both countries were granted passive access to the Visa Information System (VIS) in 2017. At the time of the drafting of this report, there is an ongoing procedure for enabling the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis related to the Schengen Information System (SIS). The criteria for the implementation of these legislative acts has been fulfilled back in 2011. However, these Council proposals were put forward not as a result of commitments taken on behalf of the EU, but rather as part of the ongoing preparation for the EU-wide implementation of the Entry/Exit System, expected to be operational by 2020. Your Rapporteur believes that following these decisions, Bulgaria and Romania will have all responsibilities and obligations of fully-fledged Members of the Schengen area, thus contributing to the security of all Schengen Member States, but Union citizens would still not enjoy the benefit of free movement to and from these countries.

IV. RAPPORTEUR’S CONCLUSIONS

Your Rapporteur believes that the proposal for a ‘two-step’ approach for Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to the Schengen area not only lacks any legally sound justification, but also poses a number of risks, such as introducing new conditionalities to further delay the abolition of checks at internal land borders, prolonging the significant economic burden for the two Member States which results from maintaining checks at land borders, as well as setting the ground for potential information gaps and legislative deficiencies between Schengen Member States and non-Schengen Member States in the future.

Splitting the Council decision into two legal acts (one for the abolition of checks at air and sea borders, and another one – for land borders) would also legally codify the current double standard in the Schengen area, where Bulgaria and Romania have all obligations and responsibilities of fully-fledged Schengen members, but do not enjoy the benefit of free movement.

Therefore, your Rapporteur is of the opinion that the European Parliament should stand firmly by the model established in previous enlargements of the Schengen area, where the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis, including abolition of checks at internal air, sea and land borders, has been carried out through a single legal act following the fulfilment of the necessary criteria. Any other decision would set a precedent leading to negative political, economic and social consequences not only for Bulgaria and Romania, but for the Union as a whole, as well as negatively affecting other future enlargements of the Schengen area.


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

5.11.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

36

4

1

Members present for the final vote

Heinz K. Becker, Monika Beňová, Michał Boni, Daniel Dalton, Frank Engel, Cornelia Ernst, Laura Ferrara, Kinga Gál, Ana Gomes, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Eva Joly, Dietmar Köster, Barbara Kudrycka, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Roberta Metsola, Claude Moraes, Ivari Padar, Judith Sargentini, Giancarlo Scottà, Birgit Sippel, Csaba Sógor, Sergei Stanishev, Helga Stevens, Traian Ungureanu, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Josef Weidenholzer, Kristina Winberg, Auke Zijlstra

Substitutes present for the final vote

Carlos Coelho, Pál Csáky, Maria Grapini, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Jeroen Lenaers, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Morten Helveg Petersen, Barbara Spinelli

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Petras Auštrevičius, Enrique Calvet Chambon, Rupert Matthews, Martina Michels


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

36

+

ALDE

Petras Auštrevičius, Enrique Calvet Chambon, Sophia in 't Veld, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Morten Helveg Petersen

ECR

Rupert Matthews, Helga Stevens

EFDD

Laura Ferrara

GUE/NGL

Cornelia Ernst, Martina Michels, Barbara Spinelli, Marie-Christine Vergiat

PPE

Heinz K. Becker, Michał Boni, Carlos Coelho, Pál Csáky, Frank Engel, Kinga Gál, Barbara Kudrycka, Roberta Metsola, Csaba Sógor, Traian Ungureanu

S&D

Monika Beňová, Ana Gomes, Maria Grapini, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Dietmar Köster, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Claude Moraes, Ivari Padar, Birgit Sippel, Sergei Stanishev, Josef Weidenholzer

VERTS/ALE

Eva Joly, Judith Sargentini

4

-

ECR

Kristina Winberg

ENF

Giancarlo Scottà, Auke Zijlstra

PPE

Jeroen Lenaers

1

0

ECR

Daniel Dalton

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

Last updated: 28 November 2018Legal notice