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Revision of Temporary Checks Within Schengen – MEPs Ready to Start Nego with EU Ministers

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) agreed in yesterday’s meeting to start talks with the ministers of the European Union, on the revision of time limits and conditions for the introduction of temporary internal border checks within the Schengen Area.

According to a press release of the European Parliament, the Parliament and Council negotiators started the talks on the revision of the rules earlier this year but decided to suspend the negotiations after it became evident that a compromise was not feasible.

“In a vote on Tuesday, Civil Liberties Committee MEPs gave a green light, by 43 votes in favor, 12 against and 11 abstentions, to resume the talks and endorsed the composition of the Parliament’s negotiating team. Before the negotiations can start, Plenary will need to give its support to the talks,” the press release reads.

The Schengen Borders Code, which is currently under revision, permits the Schengen members to introduce temporary passport or identity card controls at the internal borders, in the event of a serious threat to public order or to internal security.

In October last year, the rapporteur of the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee Tanja Fajon presented a report to the EP, which assessed that the current Schengen Area internal border checks violate the EU law.

According to the report, the current border controls are no longer justified, and their removal should happen as soon as possible. The report proposes 42 amendments to the rules of border reintroduction within the Schengen zone.

The proposed amendments, among others, limit the period of border extension to one year, unlike what it has been so far, for up to two years. It also shortens the initial period for border checks for foreseeable events to two months, instead of six, as it is now. In addition, it asserts that internal border reintroduction should be decided as a measure of last resort.

Later in April this year, the European Parliament Members voted pro the revised Schengen Border Code. During the meeting of the Parliament, Rapporteur Tanja Fajon from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP had said that the Schengen is non-negotiable and the revised code aims to fully restore it.

“Unfortunately, the Council showed no will to negotiate a compromise because the status quo suits a few big member states such as France and Germany. Illegal and illegitimate controls at internal Schengen borders have been in place for more than three and a half years. It is time that they end; or time for the Commission to act against them in Court,” Rapporteur Fajon said.

Whereas in yesterday’s meeting the Civil Liberties MEPs confirmed that they want to reduce the initial period for border controls from six months to two months, and to limit any extension to a maximum period of one year, rather than the current maximum limit of two years.

Currently, Austria, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway carry internal border checks.

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