Back to Schengen: Commission proposes Roadmap for restoring fully functioning Schengen system

The Commission today presented a detailed Roadmap of the concrete steps needed to return order to the management of the EU’s external and internal borders. The creation of the Schengen area without internal borders has brought important benefits to European citizens and business alike, yet in recent months the system has been severely tested by the refugee crisis. The European Council of 18-19 February set the clear mandate of restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area, and to do so in a concerted manner, while giving full support to Member States facing difficult circumstances. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Schengen is one of the most cherished achievements of European integration, and the costs of losing it would be huge. Our aim is to lift all internal border controls as quickly as possible, and by December 2016 at the latest. For this purpose, we need a coordinated European approach to temporary border controls within the framework of the Schengen rules instead of the current patchwork of unilateral decisions. In the meantime, we must fully implement the measures set out in our roadmap in order to strengthen control of our external border and improve the functioning of our asylum system. We must also continue to work with Turkey to fully implement the Joint Action Plan and substantially reduce the flow of arrivals.” Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos added: “With this roadmap, we are presenting the next steps that we must take together to restore a normal functioning Schengen Area as soon as possible, and this requires taking a number of important actions. First, all Member States need to apply the rules – the ‘wave through’ approach must end and Member States must grant access to asylum applicants, but refuse entry to those who merely wish to transit. Secondly, we must remedy the serious deficiencies at our external borders – as indeed an internal area without border controls is only possible if we have a strong protection of our external borders. For this, the Commission’s proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard – presented in December – needs to be adopted by Member States without delay so that it can start functioning during the summer already. It is now time for Member States to pull together in the common interest to safeguard one of the Union’s crowning achievements.” You can find the full press release here.