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EU Council Adopts General Approach on an Enhanced Schengen Evaluation Mechanism

The Ministers of Home Affairs of the EU Member States have agreed on a general approach on the regulation of the reform of the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism, which will help the Schengen area become more adaptable to current and future challenges.

In a press release today, the Council of the European Union clarified that through the assessment and monitoring mechanism, the EU is able to identify deficiencies in the application of the Schengen rules and, as such, the mechanism provides a basis for the functioning of the Schengen Area as a whole.

Commenting on the move, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that the modernization mechanism will strengthen, among other things, the political and operational guidance of the Schengen area.

In the Schengen area, mutual trust between member states is essential in implementing the existing rules. Minister Darmanin said the new monitoring mechanism will play a key role in this by accelerating and simplifying assessment procedures, and by strengthening our policy and operational guidance.

The general approach involves the establishment of multi-year evaluation programs by the European Union Commission, over a period of seven years, during which the relevant specific priority areas are covered through periodic evaluations.

Read also: The five-year assessment report of the Schengen area identifies the frequent shortcomings of the member states

The reformed mechanism anticipates better targeted, unspoken and objective assessments on the application of the Schengen acquis at internal borders. At the same time, through it, the European Union will be able to evaluate the activities of agencies and private parties that perform functions as representatives of member states.

“Reports and recommendations, which were previously two separate steps in the evaluation process, will be combined into a single document and approved simultaneously for periodic evaluations. Additionally, an escalation mechanism is provided in the event of no progress,” the board notes in the press release.

Other changes expected to be implemented with the new mechanism are as follows:

Fast tracking to determine response to critical deficiencies. Annual establishment of a group of national experts who will carry out the assessments. Strengthening cooperation with relevant EU agencies, in particular with Frontex and Europol.

Finally, under the updated mechanism, the EU Council will examine the Commission’s annual reports on assessments. It will also organize discussions on the effective implementation of the Schengen acquis and the proper operation of the zone without internal border checks.

Now, the Council will first consult with the EU Parliament on this regulation and await its opinion before its final adoption.

>> France takes over EU Council presidency amid Macron demands to reform Schengen area

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