Bringing Schengen back to citizens
EU member states should “foster mutual trust in the functioning of the Schengen area”, Civil Liberties MEPs say on Wednesday.
Mutual trust also demands solidarity, security, judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters, joint protection of EU external borders and policies on migration, visa and asylum policies, MEPs add.
The first annual report on the state of Schengen drafted by Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT) addresses main shortcomings in the implementation of the Schengen acquis, progress made in addressing shortcomings and future steps. It was approved by 45 votes to 8, with 3 abstentions.
Civil Liberties MEPs condemn the continued reintroduction of internal border checks. They believe that reintroduction of internal border controls are due to shortcomings in the area of the Common European Asylum System, lack of political will, solidarity and responsibility sharing and the Dublin Regulation. Many of the prolongations are not in line with the existing rules, necessity or proportionality and are therefore unlawful, adds the text.
Members also condemn any building of physical barriers, including fences, between Member States.
Committee MEPs are concerned about the contribution of human resources and technical equipment to joint operations and the rapid reaction equipment pool, under the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation.
They also note the lack of internal cooperation between the relevant authorities of the Member State.
Action to be taken
- need of permanent, robust and effective Union response in search and rescue operations at sea to prevent the loss of life at sea;
- cooperation with third countries to reduce irregular migration;
- unannounced Schengen evaluation on-site visits should be conducted to internal borders without prior notification of the Member State concerned;
- competent authorities of the Member States should improve collection of information and statistical data on national management of resources and capabilities related to border control;
- Member States should ensure swift and effective return procedures, with full respect of fundamental rights under humane and dignified conditions;
- Member States should develop mutual cross-border police cooperation;
- implement a return decision taken by another Member State rather than making a new return decision or sending an irregular migrant back to the first issuing Member State;
- ensure adequate infrastructure, accommodation and living conditions for all asylum seekers, especially of unaccompanied minors and families with minors as well as women in vulnerable situations;
- allocate sufficient resources to the implementation and follow-up of the Schengen evaluations and Vulnerability assessment;
- reform the SIS in regards of protection of children who are at risk or missing, the immediate, obligatory exchange of information on terrorism and mandatory exchange of information on return decisions.
MEPs reiterate Bulgaria and Romania’s immediate readiness to join the Schengen area. They call on the Council to approve the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
MEPs stress that the EU has adopted couple of measures in the last years to reinforce the integrity of the Schengen area, such as creation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, mandatory systematic checks at the external borders on entry and exit for third country nationals and for EU nationals.
Rapporteur Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT): “Schengen means freedom of movement. It is at the core of European citizenship. This report states, for the first time, the views of the European Parliament on the state of Schengen. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is not good. We must bring Schengen back to our citizens. We fully support the efforts of the European Commission, but our message to Member States is just as strong: they need to comply with all the rules, not just those they want.”
Procedure: Non-legislative procedure