Towards a strengthening of the Schengen zone better taking cross-border areas into account?November 2022
The European Commission's draft regulation on the revision of the Schengen area will soon be discussed by the European Parliament.
Considering the crises that have affected the Schengen area in recent years and that have led some Member States to reintroduce internal border controls, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation in December 2021, the objective of which is to strengthen the Schengen zone. This is a major advance for cross-border regions: the impacts of border controls are given special attention!
To this end, the proposal aims to clarify procedures by strengthening the capacity of Member States to react to threats and by ensuring that the rules are applied in a uniform manner at both external and internal borders.
The Commission notes that checks at internal borders do not in themselves infringe the right to free movement, but the lack of coordination of national measures has had an impact on economic and social links in cross-border regions, affecting in particular local capacities to provide essential services on both sides of the border.
The Commission is therefore proposing new procedures to ensure a more coordinated approach in the event of a crisis situation affecting a majority of Member States, while respecting the sovereign right of Member States to reintroduce border controls. In concrete terms, Member States will be able to react to an immediate threat by introducing border controls at internal borders for up to one month and for a total period of three months.
Secondly, in the event of a serious threat to public order or internal security in a Member State, that State may exceptionally reintroduce border controls for a total period of up to two years, with such controls being notified to the Commission.
Finally, the proposal establishes a procedure for authorisation by the Council, following a proposal from the Commission, of the reintroduction of border controls at internal borders in some or all of the Member States affected by the threat to internal security or public order, thus providing a coherent framework, for periods of six months as long as the threat exists.
In order to limit the adverse consequences resulting from the reintroduction of internal border control, it should be accompanied, where appropriate, by mitigating measures, in particular to safeguard the interests of cross-border regions, including, for example, authorisations or derogations concerning the inhabitants of those regions.
The amended Article 39 and the new Article 42b require Member States to notify the Commission of cross-border regions no later than two months after the entry into force of the regulation, This is in order to determine the scope of any mitigating measures to be provided for in an implementing regulation under Article 28 (the coordinated approach decided by the Council) and the areas to be taken into account when assessing the impact under Article 26 of the Schengen Code (when notifying Member States of the reintroduction of internal border controls).
In October 2022, the European Committee of the Regions published an opinion on the Review of the governance of the Schengen area.
More info - See the draft EC regulation
To be continued: debates in the European Parliament.