Schengen: restoring the EU’s passport-free zone 


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How should the Schengen zone be restored? ©AP Images/ European Union-EP 

Parliament’s civil liberties committee discusses the proposed new strategy to restore Schengen with the European Commission on Monday 21 March. With efforts to strengthen the EU’s external borders ongoing and following the deal struck with Turkey at the EU summit on 17-18 March, the Commission is keen to remove the temporary border controls imposed by several member states within the Schengen zone as soon as possible. Follow the discussion live on our website.

On 4 March the Commission revealed its roadmap for restoring the Schengen zone, which includes measures to reinforce the EU’s external borders as well as improving the asylum system.

This is in response to several member states temporarily reintroducing border controls to deal with the refugee crisis and terrorism threats. These currently include Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Germany and France.

The civil liberties committee will debate the strategy with Commission representatives on Monday as part of a discussion of the situation in the Schengen area.

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Meanwhile the Parliament is also working on its own proposals for dealing with the refugee crisis.

On 16 March the civil liberties committee adopted a report calling for a centralised EU system for asylum claims with national quotas. MEPs say a new system is needed to ensure fairness and shared responsibility, solidarity and swift processing of applications.

During the EU summit on 17-18 March European heads of state and government agreed a deal with Turkey that will see new irregular migrants arriving at Greek islands returned to the country, while for every for Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU.

During his speech at the start of the summit, EP President Martin Schulz underlined that any arrangement reached with Turkey could not replace a genuine EU migration and asylum policy. He called for an overhaul of existing rules and the establishment of a European Coast and Border Guard, as proposed by the Commission.