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EU Commission Proposes New Schengen Area Rules

The European Union Commission unveiled today a proposal to update the Schengen Area Border Law, in an effort to make the borderless Schengen area more resilient towards future challenges, which had threatened its existence in the past.

In unveiling the proposed new rules for the Schengen area, the commission recommended, among other things, making the re-imposition of internal border controls a measure of last resort and, instead, managing external borders more efficiently.

“The targeted changes will bring greater EU coordination and better equip member states to deal with emerging challenges when managing both the EU’s common external borders and internal borders within the Schengen Area,” the EU Commission notes in a press release issued regarding the proposal.

Commenting on the proposal, the Vice President for Promotion of European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, spoke about the 2015 refugee crisis in Europe, terrorist attacks across the borderless region, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic as some of the biggest challenges the Schengen area countries faced in Last few years.

“It is our responsibility to strengthen Schengen governance and to ensure that member states are equipped to ensure a rapid and coordinated European response to crisis situations, including where migrants are exploited,” he said, stressing that today’s proposal would help member states fortify the Schengen area, describing it as a “jewel in the crown.” of the European Union.

Elva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, also spoke about the challenges posed by the Corona virus, stressing that the epidemic demonstrated the importance of the Schengen area for the economy and society of the European Union.

The main changes that the Commission intends to make to the Schengen border codes are as follows:

Reimposing border controls: The Commission intends to make internal border controls a measure of last resort, by prompting member states to assess the situation more, as well as its impact on freedom of movement, before doing so. In cases where border controls remain in place for more than 18 months, the commission will be involved in assessing whether they are necessary. Strengthening alternative measures: The Commission proposes to Member States to use alternative forms of enhancing security in their territories, in the form of increased police checks in border areas. Handling of unauthorized movements within the Schengen area: A new procedure will be created in order to handle unauthorized movements during joint police operations.

The new Schengen border laws also provide for new measures that member states can take to effectively manage the EU’s external borders, particularly in cases where migrants are used for political purposes, as happened recently at the EU’s border with Belarus.

Finally, the Commission proposed further procedures in accordance with the EU asylum and return rules, that is, by the possibility of extending the registration deadline for asylum applications up to four weeks and for the examination of all asylum applications at the border, except for medical cases.

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