Sun. May 29th, 2022

3 March 2022, 22:45

The EU Council today adopted its general approach on a Council regulation reforming the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism. The regulation is intended to help make the Schengen area more adaptable to current and future challenges.

The evaluation and monitoring mechanism provides for objective and impartial evaluations to quickly identify deficiencies in the application of Schengen rules and ensure they are swiftly addressed. It also provides the basis for a dialogue on the functioning of the Schengen area as a whole.

In the Schengen area, mutual trust between member states is essential in the implementation of the existing rules. The new monitoring mechanism will play a key role in this by speeding up and simplifying the evaluation procedures, and by strengthening our political and operational steering.

Gérald Darmanin, French Minister for the Interior

Strategic focus of the mechanism

The Commission will establish multiannual evaluation programmes covering a period of seven years in order to identify, where relevant, specific priority areas to be covered by the periodic evaluations.

Under the new rules, unannounced and thematic evaluations will be better targeted. In particular, the Commission may organise unannounced evaluations on the application of the Schengen acquis at the internal borders and on emerging or systemic problems which could have a significant adverse impact, or when a member state is seriously neglecting its obligations, including due to serious violations of fundamental rights.

Given the increasing role of EU agencies in the implementation of the Schengen acquis, the regulation will make it possible to evaluate the activities of the EU agencies and private parties when they perform functions on behalf of the member states in order to assist in the operational application of provisions of the Schengen acquis.

Simpler and faster evaluation and monitoring procedures

Reports and recommendations, previously two separate steps in the evaluation process, will be merged into a single document and adopted simultaneously for periodic evaluations. In addition, an escalation mechanism is provided for in the event of lack of progress.

The identification of and response to serious deficiencies will be fast-tracked. The Commission will inform the member state directly when such deficiencies are identified during the evaluation. If the deficiencies constitute a serious threat to public policy or internal security, the Parliament and Council will also be informed immediately. The timeline for the subsequent presentation of the evaluation report, adoption of the recommendations and implementation of the remedial actions is considerably shortened.

Participation of all the actors concerned

Every year, the Commission and member states will establish a pool of national experts available to carry out evaluations.

Cooperation with the relevant EU agencies will also be strengthened. In particular, Frontex and Europol will provide expertise, analysis and reports. The Commission will also use the results of existing monitoring activities and in particular the vulnerability assessment.

Enhanced role of the Council

The Council will exercise its political role in relation to the governance of the Schengen area by examining the Commission’s annual reports on the evaluations and holding political discussions on the effective implementation of the Schengen acquis and proper functioning of the area without internal border controls.

Evaluation reports, including recommendations, will be adopted by the Commission for periodic evaluations. However, the Council will adopt recommendations in cases of serious deficiencies, for first-time evaluations and thematic evaluations, and where the evaluated member state substantially contests the report.

Next steps

The Council decided to consult, on a voluntary basis, the European Parliament on the proposal for this regulation, and will wait for the European Parliament to deliver its opinion before proceeding to the final adoption of the regulation.

Background

The Schengen area without internal border controls relies on the effective application by member states of Schengen rules. To support the implementation of these rules, a peer-to-peer evaluation and monitoring mechanism was established in 1998. A specific Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism was established in 2013.

Source – EU Council: Visit the meeting page