“In times of crisis, we have seen that there are certain aspects of Schengen that must be improved, and introducing new safeguards while allowing Member States the possibility to introduce longer temporary internal border controls as an extraordinary measure in exceptional circumstances is one way to address some outstanding issues. The way forward is through common EU solutions. This is also what the new European Commission proposal aims for”, said Roberta Metsola MEP, the EPP Group Spokeswoman in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, commenting on new legislation on temporary controls on internal Schengen borders.
Both Roberta Metsola and Carlos Coelho MEP, the Rapporteur on the Schengen Information System, welcome the introduction of strict safeguards and the EU-level coordination as a prerequisite for Schengen to live up to its purpose when faced with today’s challenges.
“The Schengen Zone is more than just a political project - it is an idea that has at its core the bringing together of peoples in the security that by pooling our resources, we are stronger. It is essential politically, economically and socially and has become almost indivisible from the very concept of Europe as we know it today. It is our responsibility to ensure that the Schengen Zone functions as it should and that citizens retain their confidence in it“, said Metsola.
Carlos Coelho added: "Recent crises have placed the area of free movement under pressure, leading to the reintroduction of controls at the internal borders in several Member States and for a long period. This ends today. We are bringing Schengen back to Europeans.” However, the MEPs warned that completing the Schengen governance framework cannot be effective without strong external borders.
“Our priority must be now to deliver concrete results at the external borders. Having a Schengen Zone must go hand-in-hand with strengthening the protection of our borders. This is why the EPP Group has been calling for strong EU registration systems at external borders allowing law enforcement authorities to prevent terrorism and serious crime. Deadlock in negotiating these essential instruments is unacceptable. There is simply too much at stake”, said Metsola.
Coelho echoed her words: “We have secured our borders, namely through the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard, and we are increasing cooperation between our police officials on the ground through the improvement of the Schengen Information System. However, recent events have shown that we still need to adjust the Schengen governance. We need to increase coordination between Member States and enhance the European framework in cases of national security. We will better protect Schengen from shortcomings while respecting the right of Member States to control their borders.”
“We are contributing to the security and free movement of European citizens. Therefore, we call on all institutions to deliver. We need to make it happen as quickly as possible. Let us make Schengen ready for the new challenges", he concluded.