French President Emmanuel Macron again raised the issue of “re-establishing the Schengen area” on Thursday, three weeks before France takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
During a press conference following a visit to Le Berthus, a municipality in the Pyrenees-Orientales province in southern France, on the border with Spain, President Macron urged the reorganization of the Schengen area in order to create a safer borderless zone.
“We must radically reform Schengen to rethink its organization, intensifying our joint border protection with a real security police force on the region’s external borders, but also by strengthening the integration of our bases and … a joint operation of our responsible ministers, among other things,” President Macron said.
His comments come just about three weeks before France takes over the presidency of the European Union Council, which is due to take place on January 1. The presidency of the Council rotates among the member states of the European Union every six months, and currently, the Council is chaired by Slovenia.
At another press conference on Thursday, December 9, at the Elysee Palace, outlining his plans for France’s six-month presidency, Macron said France would work for a strong and “sovereign” European Union, among other things, by pushing for the re-establishment of the Schengen area.
According to Macron, the 27-nation bloc needs to protect its borders, especially amid the threats of a migration crisis, referring to the situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus, where hundreds of migrants have recently tried to cross into the country. European Union, prompted by the Belarusian authorities.
“Schengen is a region that has become fragmented…because of the terrorist threat, because of immigration tensions and because of the health scare. Does it matter that it is like this?” he said during the conference.
Macron believes that new mechanisms that would protect the EU’s borders are one way to solve this problem. The European Union is already working on several mechanisms such as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) and the EU Entry/Exit System.
Macron has been calling for reform of the Schengen area since 2019, but his calls intensified during the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020 after the majority of member states restored internal border controls.
In March 2020, he went so far as to say Europe was witnessing the death of Schengen, criticizing EU leaders for re-imposing temporary border checks unilaterally.
Macron’s calls to reorganize the Schengen area, in November last year, were backed by now former German chancellor Angela Merkel, who at a meeting of European leaders days later highlighted the need to urgently reform the Schengen area in light of recent terrorist attacks while adding that the EU The European has long been working in this direction.