While Romania and Bulgaria are preparing to join the Schengen area, France and Italy want stronger internal border controls to manage African migrants. On 2 May, MEPs on the Justice Committee expressed concern about a European Commission announcement that it is considering a temporary reintroduction of checks at internal EU borders. Committee chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar told us more.
France and Italy have called for stronger internal border controls to manage African migrants. What does the EP think?
We are concerned about the attitude of some member states, namely Italy and France, who are taking the challenge of some thousands of migrants from Africa as a pretext to challenge Schengen and call for a revision of the Schengen agreement.
The way forward is not revising Schengen, but by making it fully enforceable, which means that we should complete the migration package and in particular we should finalise the procedure leading to the entry into force of the SIS II (the Schengen Information System, which allows members of the area to exchange information) and the new verification system for assessing the criteria to enter the Schengen area.
What is Schengen's future: enlargement or restriction?
Italy needs support and solidarity, but Schengen does not need revision now. We should stand by the principle that Schengen makes sense.
The way forward is not to revise Schengen on the pretext of the migrants who have been displaced by the conflict in Northern Africa. We could foresee that eventuality from the start of the uprisings.
In what cases could the temporary introduction of internal border controls be justified?
It is justified as a matter of principle. It has been established and foreseen by the law. The controls have to be applicable on a non-discriminatory basis, fully respecting the principle of proportionality, and of course, fully respecting all fundamental rights.
On 2 May, the Committee gave a green light to Romania's and Bulgaria's joining Schengen. The entire EP will vote in June.
On 4 May, the Commission unveiled a proposal to better manage migration into the EU, which will be discussed by the minsters on the Justice and Home Affairs Council 12 May. It will be followed by a package of measures on migration 24 May.