European court puts safeguards on Schengen blacklist

A ruling from the European Court of Justice has upheld the primary European law right of free movement, even of persons subject to a Schengen area blacklisting ‘alert’.

In the ruling, handed down on 31 January 2006, the court held that the mere fact that an alert had been issued against an individual in the Schengen Information System (SIS) did not constitute grounds for a member state refusing them entry.

On the contrary, if any person covered by community law – subject to an alert or not – applied for entry to the Schengen area, the member state must verify whether “their presence constitutes a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society”.

The Commission, which had brought the case against Spain, welcomed the ruling as upholding one of the three fundamental bases of community law, that of free movement.

In the facts of the case, two Algerian men, married to Spanish nationals, were refused entry to Spain on the grounds that their names were subject to alerts on the SIS. This alert had been entered by Germany and, under the rules of the system, only Germany can alter or delete a record it created.

The SIS database was created to protect the secure external borders of the Schengen area, itself established by convention in 1995. The database contains information on stolen goods and vehicles, persons wanted by the police and can contain ‘alerts’ detailing persons considered a threat to security (see Border control LinksDossier).

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