Hearing on the future of the Schengen area, Brussels - Main contents
|date||February 20, 2018 15:00 - 18:30|
|location||József Antall building (JAN) i|
|attending||(Claude) Moraes i, (Carlos) Coelho i, (Tanja) Fajon i, (Victor) Negrescu i, D. (Dimitris) Avramopoulos i et al.|
|organisation||Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) i|
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
The future of the Schengen area: internal management and governance, information systems and territorial scope
Tuesday 20 February 2018, 15.00 - 18.30
Room: József Antall (JAN) 4Q2
The area of free movement without internal border controls is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process. The possibility to travel within the Schengen area without being subject to border controls is highly valued by European citizens.
Since 2015, however, in the wake of the massive influx of irregular migrants, several Member States reintroduced and subsequently prolonged their internal border control, mainly due to the secondary movements of migrants within the area of free movement. To address the identified shortcomings in the management and governance of Schengen, and in particular at the external border, a series of initiatives were put in place in order to restore the normal functioning of the Schengen area.
In addition, the repeated terrorist attacks have put great pressure to improve the cooperation and exchange of information between the Member States and to better exploit the existing large-scale information systems, which had been set-up in order to compensate for the absence of controls at internal borders. As part of the steps taken by the EU to mitigate the situation, also the development of new systems has been launched and the scope of use of the existing ones has been broadened.
Since the introduction of the amended regulation on the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism, a great deal of detailed information has been gathered on the application of the Schengen acquis in the Member States. The findings have been both worrisome, illustrating the major shortfalls in different fields of the Schengen cooperation and encouraging, in that they demonstrate the willingness of the Member States to improve on their national arrangements.
Finally, despite Bulgaria and Romania fulfilling the criteria for the full application of the Schengen acquis and repeated calls from the European Parliament to this end, the Schengen area has - in the absence of the required Council decision - not been enlarged to these two countries. The process regarding Croatia is ongoing.
Due to the rapid development in the field of Schengen, the hearing is intended to take stock of the initiatives undertaken by the European Union in the last years and assess the progress made with a view for the future.
-Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council "Back to Schengen - A Roadmap", COM(2016) 120 final
-Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on preserving and strengthening Schengen COM(2017) 570 final
-Study for the LIBE Committee: Internal border controls in the Schengen area: is Schengen crisis-proof?
-Policy Paper: SCHENGEN’S STRESS TEST: POLITICAL ISSUES AND PERSPECTIVES
Order of business
15h00 - 15h05 Opening remarks by Claude Moraes, LIBE Chair
Overview of the latest and expected developments
15.05 - 16.05
The session aims to look into some of the recent and foreseeable changes that have the potential of deeply impacting key aspects of the Schengen area.
Following the existing practice utilised by some Member States as regards controls at internal borders and voicing out the concerns that the current mechanism does not provide an adequate framework to cope with the prevailing situations, alleviating measures have been proposed in different fields of the Schengen governance. The European Commission launched in September 2017 a proposal to amend the regulatory framework as regards to the rules pertaining to the temporary reintroduction of border control at the internal borders. Are the currently proposed changes enough or could they prove detrimental to the whole future of Schengen? Can the internal border controls be ended? And in light of the present day challenges, does the Schengen acquis need even more thorough check up or overhaul?
Already in 2013 a set of initiatives, called the Smart Borders Package, were put forward to improve the management and the situational awareness at the external borders and within the area of free movement. Since then, the Entry-Exit System has been adopted and the development of the core information system of the European Union, the Schengen Information System (SIS), is once again being prepared for the future challenges. As an evolution a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is also in the making. Do the large-scale information systems now being developed and their interoperability provide an adequate response to the future requirements for the collection and use of critical information?
The European Commission and the Parliament have been clear on the issue of enabling the full application of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania and the abolition of checks on persons at the internal borders. As for Croatia, the country is about to fulfil all the requirements to be a full member of the Schengen community. In light of the current situation, the hearing will discuss the current obstacles for the Schengen area to be enlarged to Bulgaria and Romania and the state of play regarding Croatia.
15h05 - 15h15 Presentation of an update of the 2016 study for the LIBE Committee commissioned by the Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs by Senior Research Fellow and Head of Justice and Home Affairs Unit, Dr. Sergio Carrera, Centre for European Policy Studies
15h15 - 15h25 The territorial scope of the Schengen area, Romania
Minister delegate for European affairs, Mr. Victor Negrescu
15h25 - 15h35 Information systems bringing Schengen cooperation to the next century, Executive Director Krum Garkov, EU-Lisa (10 minutes)
15h35 - 16h05 Q & A
Assessment of the functioning of the Schengen area
16.05 - 17.05
The session looks at the present state of Schengen especially through the findings and the application of the amended Schengen evaluation mechanism and the implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation.
The amended Schengen evaluation mechanism has been in force since 2013 and in the near future all the Member States will have been evaluated through the new mechanism. Through this mechanism, a great deal of information has been rendered available on the functioning of the Schengen area and the functioning of the evaluation mechanism itself. Therefore, it begs the question: what is the current state of Schengen when viewing it through the Schengen evaluation mechanism? Is the mechanism able to achieve its objective of a better implementation of the Schengen rules through the Member States? How is the situation and where do further efforts need to be made? Is the external border of Schengen adequately controlled? Furthermore, is the mechanism, as an essential part of the Schengen governance, providing the European Institutions with adequate and timely information and simultaneously the Member States with precise direction on how to improve their national arrangements?
Upon the creation of the new European Border and Coast Guard on the foundations of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, great expectations have been put into the new Agency to produce results in accordance with its new and extensive mandate. Has the new Agency provided the much-anticipated remedies to the situation at the external borders? What still needs to be done in order to achieve the envisioned milestones?
16h05 - 16h15 Schengen evaluation mechanism: Findings of the evaluations
Deputy-Director General Simon Mordue, DG Home, European Commission
16h15 - 16h25 Schengen evaluation mechanism: Assessment of the new evaluation mechanism, the Members States’ point of view
JHA Councillor Mikko Simola, Finland
16h25 - 16h35 State of play: Vulnerability assessment results, Operational response, International Co-operation, EUROSUR and the Complaint mechanism
Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri, Frontex
16h35 - 17h05 Q & A
The session aims to raise political discussions and exchange views regarding the overall state of Schengen, and formulate opinions on the necessary steps on how to move forward. Are the mechanisms governing Schengen crisis-proof and, if not, what needs to be done to achieve this in the future?
17h05 - 17h10 MEP Carlos Coelho, Chair of the LIBE Working Group on Schengen Scrutiny, Rapporteur for the annual report on the functioning of the Schengen area and the Schengen Information System package
17h10 - 17h15 MEP Tanja Fajon, Rapporteur for the proposal amending the SBC as regards the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders
17h15 - 17h20 Council Presidency, Bulgaria
Mr Valentin Radev, Minister of Interior
17h20 - 17h25 The way forward: Commission’s perspective
Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos
17h25 - 18h25 Debate
18h25 - 18h30 Closing remarks by Claude Moraes, LIBE Chair
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PRACTICAL GUIDELINES FOR THE DEBATE
•During the discussion, so as to make it possible for the highest number of parliamentarians to intervene, speaking time of speakers will be strictly limited to the specified time allocated and speaking time of the Members to two minutes per contribution or question in order to ensure a fruitful discussion.
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FOR THE PUBLIC THE MEETING IS BROADCASTED LIVE AND RECORDED
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The Parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs is responsible for:
1.The protection within the territory of the Union of citizens' rights, human rights and fundamental rights, including the protection of minorities, as laid down in the Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union