Press release
 

MEPs congratulate nine new Member States for joining the Schengen area

Schengen - 15-11-2007 - 13:12
Plenary sessions
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A Polish citizen waiting at the border line with his passport in the hand ©BELGA/AFP

MEPs welcome the nine new Member States into the Schengen area

In adopting a joint resolution on the enlargement of the Schengen area of free movement to the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia, MEPs stress the symbolic and historic importance of the event with a view to ending the former divisions in Europe. MEPs congratulate them on the tremendous efforts in order to be ready and to respect all the Schengen requirements in such a short period of time.

MEPs say that the creation of the Schengen area is one of the greatest EU achievements, characterised by the removal of all controls at the common borders between all the participant states and the introduction of freedom of movement within EU territory. The resolution was adopted with 459 votes in favour, 13 against and 42 abstentions.
 
The House reminds the new Member States of the need to maintain a high level of security and to strictly and efficiently meet the Schengen area's requirements at all times. The House also stresses the urgent need to speed up preparations for the start-up of a fully functioning SIS II.
 
The European Parliament reminds the Member States that they should put in place as soon as possible all the necessary measures to remedy the shortcomings that still exist, but notes that, although some issues are still outstanding and require to be followed up in the future, they do not constitute an obstacle to applying the full Schengen acquis to the new Member States concerned.
 
MEPs recall the need to proceed to a global evaluation, on the next two years, regarding the way that the system has been implemented and is working in every country participating in the Schengen area.
 
Background
 
Five Member States - France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - signed the Schengen Agreement on 14 June 1985 and the Schengen Convention on 19 June 1990 (the latter came into force in 1995). They agreed, on an intergovernmental basis, to gradually remove all the controls at their common borders and to introduce freedom of movement inside the territory, normally designated as the Schengen area.
 
In parallel to the removal of controls at the internal borders, some compensatory measures were implemented, including: the establishment of efficient controls at the external borders, the reinforcement of the cooperation between those Member States' administrative, customs, police and judicial authorities, a common visa policy, and the creation of the Schengen Information System (SIS).
 
The Schengen acquis (Agreement/Convention/implementing rules and related agreements), was integrated into the institutional and legal framework of the European Union in 1999, with the Treaty of Amsterdam.
 
The initial membership of five Member States has been extended over time to all 15 old Member States: Italy joined in 1990, Spain and Portugal in 1991, Greece in 1992, Austria in 1995, and Finland, Sweden and Denmark (under a special arrangement) in 1996. Ireland and the United Kingdom are only partial participants, since their border controls have been maintained. Two non-Community countries - Iceland and Norway - also joined in 1996, but they have a limited role in terms of decision-taking.
 
The 10 new Member States (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Cyprus) adopted the Schengen acquis on joining the EU in 2004. We are facing the biggest enlargement in Schengen's history, with the declaration by 9 of them (excluding Cyprus) of readiness to join.
 
REF.: 20071114IPR13062