European Commission proposes road map to restore Schengen
9 Mar 16
IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? The European Commission presented a road map Friday on how to restore a fully functioning Schengen border system which it called “severely tested” by the refugee crisis in the past year.
What does the change mean? The plan aims to lift all internal national border controls within the Schengen area (mainland Europe) no later than the end of 2016 and adopt a proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard agency by June so that it will be operational at external borders by summer. The road map also calls for steps to address Greek border management and to implement agreements with Turkey to keep refugees from crossing into the EU.
Background: The plan addresses internal and external borders to enable free movement for visitors within the Schengen region. Since last year, several European Union member states have re-introduced national borders to controls the flow of refugees, citing deficiencies in controlling European external borders, namely Greece and Italy.
The main steps of the road map are:
- Internal border controls should be coordinated within the Schengen framework instead of the current patchwork of unilateral decisionsby EU member states. If external border controls do not improve beyond May 12, the European Commission will recommend a coordinated approach to internal border controls under Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code. The goal is to lift all internal border controls as soon as possible and to return normal functions of the Schengen area by the end of 2016.
- The European Parliament should adopt the proposal for creation of a European Border and Coast Guard to surveil, intervene and deploy at external borders. The proposal, presented in December, also calls for a new agency to return irregular migrants as well as a “targeted modification of the Schengen Borders Code” to introduce mandatory checks of EU citizens at external borders.
- Greek border management needs immediate support and agreements with Turkey should be implemented. The Commission will help members states accelerate relocations and will report monthly on their progress.
- Member countries should stop “waving in” refugees to other destinations and apply asylum procedures at their borders.
BAL Analysis: The road map sets some concrete steps and target dates for normalizing the Schengen area and bringing national border controls into a consistent framework. Meanwhile, travelers may continue to experience delays in processing and greater scrutiny of documents at borders, depending on the country. While political pressure on the EU has been created by the refugee crisis and undocumented migration, the response by the European Commission and the various national member states has significant impact on business travelers who rely on Schengen visas to move freely between business meetings within various European countries.
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