The Justice and Home Affairs council on 21 February reached a number of conclusions concerning free movement within the EU-25.
The council adopted a Regulation which sets up a community code for the control of external borders. The code deals with the conditions under which entry can be refused for third country nationals and establishes the European Agency for the Management of Control at External Borders as the overseeing body for member state cooperation in this area.
The concomitant measure is the abolition of internal border checks across the EU with the proviso that temporary checks for persons in case of a serious threat to security.
The establishment of the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the database of information on wanted persons, is seen as an essential condition for the lifting of internal border checks. The Council heard an update on its progress and agreed to set up a high-level group of experts to meet in March 2006 and report to the April council meeting.
The Council also agreed to step up efforts to obtain visa reciprocity with third countries so that EU nationals could travel without a visa to all countries for which the EU did not require a visa. The Council noted in particular that there had been no progress regarding visa waiver for the US, Canada or Australia. Discussions were also had on raising the fee for visas to €60: set at €35 since 2003, this sum will not cover the cost of the introduction of biometric identifiers.
EU official documents
- Council:2709th Justice and home affairs Council meeting conclusions(21 Feb 2006)
- Council:Draft Background note
- Business week online:EU(21 Feb 2006)
- UN News Centre:EU common asylum policy should not downgrade standards(21 Feb 2006)