Tanja Fajon: "If we lose Schengen, we will lose the European project" 

 
 
Tania Fajon 

Temporary internal border checks within the Schengen area have been in place for three years. MEPs are pushing for clearer conditions for their use as a measure of last resort.

Six Schengen countries - Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden - have had internal border checks in place due to exceptional circumstances since 2015, although the current limit is two years. A new proposal seeks to allow the temporary reintroduction of border controls only as a measure of last resort. It was approved by the civil liberties committee on 23 October and adopted during the plenary session on 29 November .

Learn more in our interview with report author Tanja Fajon, a Slovenian member of the S&D group.


A temporary suspension of the Schengen rules has been in place in some Schengen countries for more than three years, although the limit is two. Why was this allowed to happen?


Six countries in the Schengen area have extended interior border controls beyond three years. They are using different legal grounds to extend them because there are, I would say, some grey zones in the current legislation


The current rules are clearly ambiguous. What do you see as the main areas that should be adapted and why?


We need to have very clear conditions under which countries can temporarily reintroduce border controls. We need stricter safeguards to make sure that it is really seen as a last resort.


Which circumstances would justify internal border controls?


Extraordinary situations, like major sport events or migration flows, as we experienced some years ago. Nowadays, there are no foreseable serious threats that justify internal border controls, contrary to the claims of some EU governments.


The six Schengen countries applying internal border controls have said they will extend them: is it justified?


These prolongations are not justified and there is no evidence to prove they are. Over the last few years, national governments have pushed the limits of the current rules, extending controls for political purposes rather than out of necessity.


What are the main areas of disagreement with the European Commission and Council?


The main area of disagreement with the Commission is that we want to limit interior borders to a maixmum of one year, where there is a foreseeable threat and with very strict safeguards. We expect the high level of safeguards to be controversial among EU countries too.


We are sending a very strong signal that we will only allow the introduction of interior border controls only if there is a real need. For Europeans Schengen is the most tangible achievement of integration, of freedom of travel... If we lose Schengen, we will lose the European project. The current situation damages our economies and makes our lives less convenient.