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Tuesday, 14 February 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Local border traffic (debate)

  Barbara Kudrycka (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, the simplification of procedures for local border traffic at external borders is a step in the right direction. A great deal will depend on how the Member States themselves implement the provisions of this regulation, however. Other factors to take into account will be the size of the target group of beneficiaries of these movements, and whether the reasons for which the new regime is introduced reflect those highlighted in the proposal for a regulation. I refer to social, family and cultural cohesion and to economic cooperation. Neighbouring countries will also be challenged to ensure full reciprocity of the effective implementation of readmission agreements.

During the introduction of the local border traffic regime, it will be incumbent on the Member States to act very responsibly so as to ensure that the new BIS system does not benefit cross-border crime, smuggling or the organisation of illegal immigration. Clearly, therefore, the document we are debating is simply paving the way for the regulation of local border traffic across our external borders. Its implementation in the field must be constantly monitored. It will be necessary to establish whether it is actually worthwhile in terms of real benefits for communities living in border areas, whilst also complying with security requirements. The outcome of this assessment may vary in the various Member States located on the Union’s external borders.

In conclusion, if we really want to engage in a serious discussion on integrated solutions to make our external borders more user-friendly to travellers who are third country nationals, whilst retaining essential security requirements, we ought to ensure that all the institutions and Member States are working together to ensure full implementation of the Schengen acquis by the 10 new Member States as soon as possible. The latter’s visa policy towards their neighbours should become much more transparent once they are able to issue short-term Schengen visas.

In addition, there should be joint discussion of the possibility of wider use of national multiple entry long-term visas in cases where the implementation of the proposed local border movement provisions is not viable or attractive to the border community. I have in mind cases in which the community is seeking access to the entire territory of the neighbouring country, not just to a small, clearly defined area.

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