The Commission is adopting a Recommendation for increased cooperation between Member States in the Schengen area. It is accompanied by a report on the consultations carried out by the Schengen Coordinator with Member States in relation to long-lasting internal border controls. A formal consultation process was carried out between May and November 2023 with the Member States that reintroduced border controls as well as those Member States affected by those controls.
Schengen is the area without controls at internal borders that underpins freedom of movement for more than 425 million EU citizens, along with non-EU nationals living in or visiting the EU. Reintroducing border controls must remain exceptional, strictly limited in time and a measure of last resort if a serious threat to public policy or internal security has been established. Free movement of people, goods and services must be ensured in the Schengen area. As stated in the 2023 State of Schengen report, there is a need to increase cooperation to ensure security, while phasing out long lasting border controls.
Today’s Recommendation promotes the use of alternative measures to internal border controls as well as increased cooperation and information exchange in the event of reintroduction of such controls in eight areas:
- Structured cooperation at all levels: Member States should establish permanent contact points to ensure a coordinated response to serious threats to public policy or internal security, including drug trafficking, adjusted to the scale of the challenges and needs.
- Reinforcing capacity for joint measures: Member States should review and, where appropriate, adjust their bilateral frameworks to provide grounds for cross-border law enforcement cooperation. They should also develop joint risk analyses and provide sufficient resources for joint patrols.
- Law enforcement cooperation: Member States should ensure the implementation of Council
Recommendation on operational law enforcement cooperation of June 2022 so as to enhance operational cooperation at the internal borders. They should also make use of good practices in operational law enforcement cooperation that exist in other Member States and use EU funding to this end.
- Stepping up joint actions to fight migrant smuggling: Member States should take coordinated measures and work together with Europol, Eurojust and Frontex to step up the fight against migrant smuggling, also with the aim of reducing unauthorised movements within the EU.
- Full use of tools in the area of returns to address unauthorised movements: The Commission is encouraging full use of bilateral readmission agreements between Member States and international partners. Increased use of mutual recognition of return decisions is also key to expedite returns, in line with the Commission Recommendation of March 2023.
- Addressing unauthorised movements: Member States confronted by unauthorised movements should, in the first place, intensify police controls in the internal border areas; any decision to reintroduce internal border controls in this regard should be accompanied by mitigating measures and be under constant review.
- Strengthening joint actions to fight transnational terrorism and organised crime: Member States need to ensure the implementation of the Directive on Information Exchange to fight cross-border terrorism and organised crime. This sets out common rules on information exchange between law enforcement in Member States, and it must be transposed in their national legislation by 12 December 2024.
- Measures to mitigate the introduction of internal border controls: Member States should limit the use of systematic checks at internal borders to exceptional situations, giving preference to mobile checks in the territory and enhancing the use of modern technologies. Member States should limit the impact on the fluidity of traffic and make sure that cross-border transport connections are available.
Source: European Commission
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