Formal legislative proposals to revise the Schengen system are likely within the next two months, according a communique on migration [Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström] issued yesterday.
Her paper also calls for the relaxation in emergency situations of the rules under which applications for asylum must be processed in the EU country of first arrival. Ireland and many other member states have opposed this.
About 25,000 mainly Tunisian migrants have fled the political upheavals in their own country to the Italian island of Lampedusa, leading Mr Berlusconi to seek special measures from his EU counterparts to share the burden.
Such aid has not been forthcoming, however, and Rome is giving six-month travel visas to the migrants in an attempt to encourage them to leave Italy. Many of the Tunisians have tried to go to France, prompting Paris to send them back to Italy.
Although Mr Sarkozy, Mr Berlusconi and other EU leaders are under political pressure from far-right anti-immigration opponents, Ms Malmström argued against “populist and simplistic solutions”.
While the commissioner’s paper called for strengthened border control and “better targeted” legal migration, she said “secure borders does not mean we are creating ‘fortress Europe’”.
Border control and Schengen governance: border control and Schengen governance need to be strengthened to prevent irregular migration, to ensure that each Member State effectively controls its own portion [of] the EU’s external borders, and to build trust in the effectiveness of EU system of migration management. For this to be achieved, the following areas need to be adressed as a priority:
- The European Parliament and the Council should urgently adopt the Commission proposal to strengthen the FRONTEX mandate (so that FRONTEX can act more effectively at the external border) [added links and emphasis]
- The Commission proposed a Regulation on the establishment of an evaluation mechanism to verify the correct application of the Schengen acquis. The current Schengen Evaluation Mechanism still relies on an intergovernmental system of peer reviews to ensure the application of the common rules. In the light of recent experiences, the adoption of the Commission’s proposal must be a priority if we are to ensure that the EU is better equipped to enforce a unifrom application of the rules.
- The Commission will propose intensified coordination of border surveillance (which is the purpose of the European Border Surveillance System – EUROSUR) and will consider the feasibility of creating a European system of borders guards (the idea being to create a common culture among national authorities, shared capacities and standards, supported by practical cooperation).
- A mechanism will be considered to address the possible failure by a Member States to fulfil its obligation to patrol its part of the external border. This mechanism could include the possibilty of temporarily reintroducing internal border controls, under certain conditions. [added emphasis]
- The return acquis should be properly implemented and the EU should reorient its readmission negotiation strategy to enhance incentives for the conclusion and effective implementation of the EU readmission agreements.
- The establishment of a European entry-exit system, ensuring that data on the crossing of the border by third country nationals is available for border control and immigration authorities, and of a registered traveller programme allowing third country nationals to use automated border control making acess to the EU easier will also be considered.