In an unprecedented move, political group leaders in the European Parliament have decided to suspend negotiations with EU member states on five major justice and home affairs dossiers in protest against their decision to unilaterally rewrite rules related to the EU's boder-free Schengen area.
Martin Schulz, European Parliament president, dramatically announced the extraordinary move during the Assembly's plenary session in Strasburg yesterday (14 June).
"It is without precedent that in the middle of the legislative process, one co-legislative chamber excludes the other," Schulz said.
At issue is a decision by the EU's 27 justice and home affairs ministers, who unanimously agreed on 7 June on new rules allowing member states to re-introduce internal border controls in the Schengen passport-free area, without referring the matter to Parliament.
"The JHA Council's approach of 7 June represents a slap in the face of parliamentary democracy and is unacceptable to the directly elected representatives of European citizens," Schulz said.
"This is why the [Parliament] is forced to take these severe measures."
By majority decision, the Parliament's political group leaders decided to block progress on five major dossiers related to Justice and Home Affairs, including amendments to the Schengen border code, judicial cooperation on criminal matters and the 2013 budget related to internal security.
The decision was taken while negotiations with other EU institutions were still in progress on the Schengen governance reform package, comprising two key legislative files, one related to the reintroduction of border controls (Weber report) and one on the evaluation of Schengen (Coehlo report).
Speakers from all major political groups slammed the Danish EU presidency for what they said was a “direct attack on the EU's fundamental values”.
“For my part that, since the evening of 7 June, the Danish presidency is no longer a credible interlocutor," said Joseph Daul, leader of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) group, the largest in Parliament.
"From now to June 30 at midnight, we shall address ourselves exclusively either to the European Council or informally to the next presidency, of the Republic of Cyprus,” Daul said.