Third Schengen Forum: setting the way forward

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The Commission convened today the third Schengen Forum, a key component of the yearly Schengen Governance cycle. The Forum allowed Members of the European Parliament and Home Affairs Ministers of the current and future Council presidencies, Member States Representatives, as well as other stakeholders such as EU agencies and non-governmental organisations to exchange views on the state of play of the Schengen area and the new priorities for 2022-2023 on the basis of the recently adopted State of Schengen Report.

Political discussions will continue on 10 June in the Schengen Council, where Ministers are expected to endorse at political level the main priorities for 2022-2023.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Schengen needs commitment and mutual trust. The Commission established the Schengen Forum to promote a regular and structured political dialogue among all the actors involved in ensuring the proper functioning of the Schengen area. With this third successful event, we continue our cooperation to make Schengen stronger and to respond to the current and future challenges“.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson who has convened and chaired the Forum said: “Today’s discussions mark a key step in the 2022 Schengen Governance cycle. Schengen itself is a collective achievement and I was glad to discuss challenges and priorities with a wide range of stakeholders, including Member States, the European Parliament as well as our agencies, and NGOs.“

The discussions focused on:

  • Management of the external borders: participants discussed ways forward to achieve effective management of the external borders, to ensure that both the protection of the external borders and the rights of people seeking asylum are guaranteed. They exchanged views on how to strengthen the European integrated border management, based on the consultation process launched by the Commission on developing a Multiannual Strategic Policy for European Integrated Border Management by the end of 2022.
  • Internal border controls: participants took stock of the state of play of internal border checks in light of recent ruling in Joined Cases C-368/20 and C-369/2026 the Court of Justice, stressing that internal border checks should remain as an exceptional measure of last resort. The topic will continue to be discussed at the upcoming Council including to advance on the 2021 Commission’s amendment to the Schengen Borders Code.
  • Internal security through reinforced police cooperation: in an area without controls at the internal borders, solid police cooperation between Member States together with effective implementation of the large-scale information systems, as well as effective return and common visa policies are indispensable. Participants have also reiterated the importance to implement the new IT architecture and interoperability for border management on time by 2023.
  • The importance of completing the Schengen area: the Commission stressed out the need for the Council to adopt the decisions to allow Croatia, as well as Romania and Bulgaria to formally become part of the Schengen area. The same shall apply to Cyprus once it has successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process.
  • The priorities set by the Schengen evaluations in the areas of external border management, police cooperation, return, the Schengen information System, visa policies and data protection. The Schengen evaluations of the last years show that Member States are implementing adequately the Schengen rules, but that areas where improvements can be made remain. The Commission will continue working with Member States to discuss in more detail the level of implementation of the Schengen rules.

Next steps

The Commission calls on Member States and EU home affairs agencies to take the necessary steps to deliver on the priorities identified in the State of Schengen report and discussed today. The Commission also invites the Ministers to endorse the new Schengen governance model and the priorities for 2022-2023 at the upcoming Schengen Council on 10 June. The Commission will closely accompany this process both at the political and technical levels, and it will report on progress achieved and follow-up actions at the end of the annual cycle.

Background

The Commission has presented the first annual State of Schengen Report 2022 on 24 May 2022. The document identifies current challenges and recommends priority actions for the way forward as a starting point of the Schengen cycle. This cycle was established with the 2021 Schengen Strategy. It provides a regular ‘health check’ on the state of Schengen, that is intended to identify problems early on, to ensure common responsibility and appropriate reactive measures. Previous editions of the Schengen Forum took place in November 2020 and May 2021. It is a forum for discussions to stimulate concrete cooperation and mutual trust by taking stock of achievements and identifying obstacles experienced and setting out the way forward for Schengen.

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