Schengen state: Commission defines new priorities and a new governance model – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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Today the Commission presents the Schengen State Report 2022. This is the first time that the Commission has presented such a report, after last year’s Schengen strategy. This report is part of the Commission’s initiative to strengthen Schengen governance through an annual reporting exercise presenting the state of Schengen, identifying priorities for the coming year and monitoring progress made at the end of a given year. The report on the state of Schengen will serve as the basis for discussions by members of the European Parliament and interior ministers at the Schengen Forum on 2 June, and at the next Schengen Councill June 10.

Vice President Margaritis Schinas mentioned: “The Schengen area has united our continent and is emblematic of the European way of life. Over the past year, we have taken decisive steps to further strengthen Schengen governance and restore confidence in this key driver of our economies. Today’s reports reflect this unwavering commitment to ensuring that Schengen emerges stronger from the variety of challenges it has faced.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson mentioned: “The freedom to move, live and work in different Member States is dear to Europeans. Recent crises and challenges have shown that we cannot take this freedom for granted. We will continue to work together to deliver on the priorities set out in the State of Schengen Report and to bring the European Border and Coast Guard to work in a more effective and integrated way. Schengen is a shared responsibility that requires commitment and commitment from each of us.

An inventory of the Schengen area and new priorities

The 2022 Schengen State Report is the starting point of the new Schengen annual cycle. The cycle foresees a regular ‘health check’ on Schengen, allowing problems to be identified at an early stage in order to ensure joint responsibility and to promote the adoption of appropriate measures. An interinstitutional discussion will take place at the Schengen Forum on 2 June, and political deliberations will follow at the Schengen Council in June. This process is part of the new Schengen governance which reinforces the participation of all actors involved in monitoring the functioning of the Schengen area and monitoring the necessary measures. The new Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism, which the Commission proposed in June 2021 and which was recently adopted by the Council, will play a crucial role in this new Schengen governance model.

The report establishes a list of priority actions for 2022-2023 which must be dealt with at national and European level such as:

  • implement the new IT architecture and interoperability for border management,
  • take full advantage of cross-border cooperation tools,
  • ensure systematic checks at the external borders of all travellers,
  • ensure that Frontex achieves the full potential of its mandate,
  • the lifting of all long-term internal border controls, and
  • adopting the revised Schengen Borders Code.

The report also recalls the the importance of completing the Schengen area and asks the Council to adopt the decisions allowing Croatiaas well as Romania and Bulgaria to be officially part of it, given that all the criteria have been met. It will be the same for Cyprus once it has successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process.

The report also presents the priorities resulting from the Schengen evaluations. Schengen evaluations currently cover external border management, police cooperation, return, the Schengen Information System, visa policies and data protection.

While Schengen evaluations over the past few years have shown that Member States generally apply the Schengen rules correctly, there are some areas where improvements can be made. This demonstrates that the evaluation mechanism is effective and leads to a continuous strengthening of the Schengen area. Additional efforts are needed in particular in the areas of return and the Schengen Information System. Indeed, in an area without internal border controls, solid police cooperation between the Member States and effective implementation of large-scale information systems, in particular the Schengen Information System is as essential as it is effective to return to and common visa policies.

Alongside the report on the state of Schengen, the Commission is also consulting the institutions on the future multiannual strategic policy for integrated European border management, and presenting a report on the implementation of the Member States’ obligation to carry out systematic checks at the EU’s external borders.

The future of integrated European border management

with today Policy documentthe Commission is starting a consultation with the European Parliament and the Council on the future of integrated border management.

  • He throws the multiannual strategic policy cycle for Integrated management of European borderswhich will guide the functioning of all actors within the European Border and Coast Guard over the next five years.
  • He fixes the way forward reflect on the main elements of integrated border management. This includes: border control; seek and rescue; Risk analysis; inter-agency, European and international cooperation; to return to; fundamental rights; research and innovation; and education and training.
  • This will lead to a Communication establishing the multi-annual strategic policy for European integrated border management, to be adopted at the end of 2022.

Systematic checks at the EU’s external borders

The Commission also publishes the report on the implementation of Article 8 of the Schengen Borders Code, according to which Member States are required to carry out systematic checks against the relevant databases on all persons crossing the external borders of the Schengen area. EU, including persons benefiting from the right to free movement. The measure was aimed at strengthening EU internal security following findings that EU citizens were among the foreign terrorist fighters returning to the EU.

The report to the European Parliament and the Council analyzes the implementation and impact of these systematic checks. It concludes that the application of systematic checks has filled an important regulatory gap, despite the difficulties encountered by Member States in implementing these rules. The Commission intends to address these challenges and support Member States in the next revision of the practical handbook for border guards, which is used by the competent authorities of the Member States when carrying out border checks on people .

Next steps

The reports adopted today will feed into the next Schengen Forum in June. The next Schengen Council will be an opportunity for ministers to endorse the political priorities identified in the report on the state of Schengen. Increased political ownership based on dialogue and regular monitoring will ensure the implementation of priorities for the Schengen area. The Commission therefore calls on Member States and EU agencies to take the necessary steps to deliver on these priorities and to take the necessary follow-up action. The Commission also invites the June Schengen Council to endorse the key elements of the new Schengen governance model and the priorities for 2022-2023. The Commission will closely accompany this process at both political and technical level, and will report on progress made and follow-up actions at the end of the annual cycle.

Background

The proposals presented today complement the EU’s ongoing efforts to improve the general functioning and governance of Schengen. The Schengen area without internal border controls is a historic achievement of European integration. Since its foundation in 1985, it has changed the daily reality of millions of people. Almost 1.7 million people live in one Schengen State and work in another. People have built their lives around the freedoms offered by the Schengen area, with 3.5 million people crossing between Schengen states every day. In June 2021, the Commission presented the Schengen strategy takes stock of the challenges the area has faced in recent years and charts the way forward to strengthen the Schengen area and establish strong Schengen governance.

Helen D. Jessen