At the first Schengen Forum, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament led calls for Schengen reform to include a greater role of EU institutions when it comes to internal borders in order to preserve one of the most tangible benefits of EU for citizens.
The meeting brought together leading MEPs, Home Affairs Ministers and the European Commission to discuss the future of the Schengen area and to prepare the Strategy on the future of Schengen in 2021.
Tanja Fajon, chair of Schengen scrutiny working group in the European Parliament, said:
“Citizens cherish the Schengen area and it is our job to make their voices heard. The Schengen area is in crisis and internal borders are being increasingly used as a political lever, pulled when convenient for national governments. By failing to stick to the rules set out in the Schengen Border Code, both the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, and governments, as signatories of the Treaties, are completely failing EU citizens. We want to see the Commission use its powers to make sure free movement is preserved and deal with member states that break the code.
“In the long run, we need to reform the Schengen Border Code to give the European institutions a greater role in preserving the integrity of the Schengen area. The Schengen evaluation mechanism should also be further improved in order to address the challenges it has faced in recent years, in particular with regards to fundamental rights compliance. The costs of internal border controls are clear today, but failing to restore the integrity of Schengen would seriously endanger the EU.
“Finally, the European Parliament represents all EU citizens. We owe it to the citizens of Romania and Bulgaria to finally lift internal borders for both these countries that have been EU member states for well over a decade.”