On the week that marks 35 years since the Schengen Agreement, S&D MEPs are disappointed with the chaotic and scattered approach from Member States reintroducing and lifting internal borders in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During Thursday’s plenary session, Socialists and Democrats will back the European Parliament’s call to the Commission and Council for more coordination and leadership on border controls and for Schengen rules to be revised to be better prepared for the future.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar, chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:
“This week we should have been celebrating 35 years of one of Europe’s greatest achievements: free movement of people across borders within Schengen. Instead we are faced with, a confusing patchwork approach from Member States at best and discrimination against individual countries at worst.
While it is good news that more and more internal border restrictions are being lifted, the way in which it has been done leaves a lot to be desired. Without the return to a fully-functional Schengen Area without internal border control, we are still missing an essential stepping stone on our way to recovery.
With a more European response, we could have avoided the confusion that citizens faced as a result of bilateral decisions. In uncertain times, people deserve and expect a clear, calm and coordinated response from the EU on such an important restriction on their everyday life. That’s why we need to look again at the rules of the Schengen Area so that we are more prepared for any future pandemics.”
Tanja Fajon, S&D member and chair of LIBE Working Group on Schengen Scrutiny, said:
“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, there was a complete lack of coordination among Member States and a leadership void at EU level on the issue of border restrictions. Since then, there have been serious doubts on the effectiveness of closing internal borders as a response and we believe national governments have not done enough to justify border controls as a means of helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
In the future, EU countries that want to adopt measures that impact on people’s right to travel freely across internal borders, must respect the spirit and the letter of EU law. We are setting a very dangerous precedent, if Member States are able to ignore binding rules and laws such as the Schengen Border Code.”