The most interesting point to emerge from today’s optically orientated 9th meeting of the British Irish Council wasn’t the quibbling about the financial package – it ain’t going to change significantly – it was the mention of gaps in security, which Dermot Ahern stated was referring to the Schengen Agreement.. and Gordon Brown agrees.
The Alliance Party have previously made mention of this Agreement but the focus appears to be on different proposals than those presented by that party. [It actually seems to be a reference to the Prüm Convention [Schengen III] – Ed]. Bertie Ahern is in agreement.. although no-one seems to have acknowledged other gaps..
But why not just fully implement the Schengen Agreement and the subsequent protocols? The Wikipedia entry suggests two reasons why that would not be acceptable to either of the polities concerned.
The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland are the only two EU members not to fully implement the Schengen Agreement; Ireland and the UK share a Common Travel Area with no border controls between the two. Ireland is thus unable to join the Schengen Agreement without dissolving this agreement with the UK – and therefore Northern Ireland. However the UK remains reluctant to surrender its own border controls and work permit system. Therefore United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland are signatories of the Council Decision (covering police co-operation) but not the Council Regulations (covering asylum, visas and border controls).