Tag Archives: border control

Commission’s Vision on EU Borders and Migration

By now you must have heard that the Mediterranean Member States are experiencing some serious difficulties in managing the wave of new migrants from North Africa. The governments of Italy and France have stepped in and suggested temporal reintroduction of border controls due to the migrant wave. Now the European Commission has issued its own Communication on migration.

The Commission notes that the EU is not fully equipped to help those Member States most exposed to massive migratory movements. That is why it believes that the feasibility of creating a European system of borders guards should be considered. The Commission also recommends adopting a risk-based approach and ensuring greater use of modern technology at land as well as sea borders.

The Commission advocates for a mechanism that would allow the EU to handle situations where either a Member State is not fulfilling its obligations to control its section of the external border, or where a particular portion of the external border comes under unexpected and heavy pressure due to external events. The mechanism should be used as a last resort in truly critical situations.

The Commission also calls for the incorporation of enhanced readmission obligations into the framework agreements concluded with third countries.

One important claim of the Commission is that a European entry-exit system would ensure that data on the crossing of the border by third country nationals would be available for border control and immigration authorities.

The Commission intends to present by 2012 a Green Paper on addressing labour shortages through migration in the EU Member States.

In general the Commission says that the EU should step up its efforts to address the drivers of migration with a special focus on employment issues, governance and demographic developments.

The Communication on migration is a well prepared and consistent document, but it remains to be seen how Member States will act on it.

Why Reforming Schengen is Not That Easy

France and Italy have signaled their desire to push for a reform of the Schengen framework for border control. One of the most important proposals is the procedural right to temporarily re-establish border controls between two countries. The European Commission is scheduled to present its own plans for amending the Schengen rules next week (4 May).

The Schengen border security legal framework is now part of the EU acquis. Any revision of the Schengen framework goes through a codecision procedure, where the European Parliament is a co-legislator with the Council (see art. 77, para. 2 TFEU). More, the Commission is the only body that can propose legislation on border checks, asylum and immigration (see a contrario art. 76 TFEU). Whatever France and Italy propose is of no relevance; the Member States do not have a right of initiative on these matters.

On all these accounts I am quite skeptical that Italy and France will succeed to push an amendment of the Schengen framework that seriously undermines the principles of the current regime. Any significant policy overhaul must be accompanied by a careful impact assessment and discussions not only among governments of Member States, but also with relevant stakeholders. It will take more than a bilateral summit to do that.