The Schengen “acquis“ and the New Member States

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The Schengen “acquis” is composed of one principle and many
implementing regulations*, says an article in the latest issue
of MINEFI-DREE elargissement
‘s Revue Elargissement.

The principle is that checks and controls should be abolished at
the internal borders of the member States of the Schengen Area and
applied only at their common external frontier. The implementing
regulations comprise all the technical measures necessary to ensure
that free movement of persons does not pose a risk to the security
of the States which are party to the Schengen Agreement, for
example, the common definition of requirements for granting visas,
coordination of the authorities in charge of policing frontiers,
responsibility of carriers in the fight against clandestine
emigration etc. The most important item is the creation of a
“Schengen Information System” (SIS), a computerised network linking
police stations and consular agents and giving them all the
relevant data on persons and goods which could pose a threat to
public security. 

The New Member States (NMS) do not have an opt-out
clause 

They are therefore obliged to become part of the Schengen Area.
However, they were not yet considered to be in a position to fulfil
all the obligations resulting from the “Schengen acquis”. This was
therefore divided into two parts. Firstly, measures which should be
applied from the day of accession. These are essentially checks and
controls at the external frontiers of the European Union, common
policy towards third countries in respect of the granting of visas
(but not the Schengen visa), rules for the crossing of external
frontiers, police and customs co-operation, the fight against
clandestine immigration etc. There are no transitional arrangements
for these measures. Secondly, the provisions which will allow the
abolition of the internal borders of the Schengen Area will be
applicable only when all the other members of Schengen Area
unanimously believe that the new Member State is able to ensure
effective implementation of these provisions. In concrete terms, in
order for the NMS to become full members of the Schengen Area, it
is necessary, firstly, that the new Schengen Information System
(S.I.S. II), adjusted to the new configuration of the Schengen
Area, be operational – normally in the course of 2006 – and that,
secondly, the review of each NMS “by its peers’” be conclusive.
These reviews will take place in 2006 and 2007. 

Three other points may be noted: 

  • When it was a candidate in 2002, each new Member State had to
    prepare a “Schengen Action Plan” in which it set out its strategy
    to meet the obligations under the Schengen acquis. Bulgaria and
    Romania did the same in 2004.
  • A “Schengen facility” of 963 million Euros over the period
    2004-2006 was made available to the NMS to improve infrastructures
    at frontiers, to train staff etc. * The “Schengen acquis” results
    from the Schengen Agreement signed in 1985 by 5 States and
    gradually extended to 15 States (13 members of the EU + Iceland and
    Norway). Created outside the European legal framework, this
    Agreement, its convention of implementation and subsequent
    decisions were integrated into the legal framework of the European
    Union by the Treaty of Amsterdam which came into effect in May
    1999. They come under the chapter “Justice and Home Affairs” set up
    by this Treaty. However, the United Kingdom and Ireland obtained an
    opt-out clause, whilst being included in certain aspects of the
    intergovernmental co-operation based on the Schengen Agreement.
    Furthermore, Iceland and Norway are members of the Schengen Area
    without being members of the European Union.
  • The Accession Treaties contain a special safeguard clause (see
    Review Elargissement Actualités n°35 on the functioning of
    safeguard clauses), which covers the whole field of “Justice and
    Home Affairs” including the Schengen acquis and can be evoked
    during the three years following accession. 

* The “Schengen acquis” results from the Schengen Agreement
signed in 1985 by 5 States and gradually extended to 15 States (13
members of the EU + Iceland and Norway). Created outside the
European legal framework, this Agreement, its convention of
implementation and subsequent decisions were integrated into the
legal framework of the European Union by the Treaty of Amsterdam
which came into effect in May 1999. They come under the chapter
“Justice and Home Affairs” set up by this Treaty. However, the
United Kingdom and Ireland obtained an opt-out clause, whilst being
included in certain aspects of the intergovernmental co-operation
based on the Schengen Agreement. Furthermore, Iceland and Norway
are members of the Schengen Area without being members of the
European Union. 

 

For more analyses, visit the DREE website.

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