Revision of Schengen evaluation mechanism enhances trust between Member States
On 2 June, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to reform the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism. The Government expressed its position on the proposal in its communications submitted to Parliament on 8 July.
The functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is based on trust between the Member States. The purpose of the evaluation and monitoring mechanism is to maintain this trust and promote the functioning of the Schengen area by ensuring that Member States comply effectively with the Schengen acquis.
The aim of the proposed regulation is, among other things, to shorten and simplify evaluation processes and strengthen the assessment of the respect for fundamental rights. The Government supports the objectives of the proposal and considers it important that the mechanism be improved both in terms of its strategic and effective application.
More detailed assessment of the respect for fundamental rights
The Schengen acquis includes a broad range of EU actions in the area of justice and home affairs. According to the proposed regulation, in future the evaluation and monitoring mechanism would cover all areas under the Schengen acquis, except those for which a separate evaluation mechanism has been established in EU legislation. The mechanism would continue to include specific evaluations to assess the implementation of measures in the areas of external border management, common visa policy, the Schengen Information System (SIS), police cooperation and return of illegally staying persons. The Government considers it important that the participation of Member States and their opportunities to exert influence be ensured at different stages of the evaluation process.
The proposal states that the evaluations must pay particular attention to the respect for fundamental rights. This would be supported by improving training and using information provided by third parties, such as ombudspersons. The participation of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in the evaluations would also be strengthened.
The proposal for a regulation is part of the comprehensive development of the Schengen area
The current Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism has been in place since 2015. According to the Commission, the mechanism has clearly improved operations, and compliance with the provisions of the Schengen acquis is mainly good. However, there are shortcomings in the mechanism, such as the duration of evaluations, the number of experts available for evaluations and adequate consideration of the respect for fundamental rights.
In its communication on a new pact on migration and asylum in autumn 2020, the Commission announced that it will present a Strategy on the future of Schengen with legislative and operational initiatives. On 2 June 2021, the Commission adopted a communication on a strategy towards a fully functioning and resilient Schengen area. The proposal for a regulation to reform the evaluation and monitoring mechanism is part of this comprehensive development and reinforcement of the Schengen area. The European Commission’s aim is that the regulation would enter into force on 1 September 2022.
Laura Yli-Vakkuri, Director General, tel. +358 295 488 250, [email protected]