Communication on a Strategy for the future of Schengen and Amendment of the Regulation establishing the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism

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EESK atzinums: Communication on a Strategy for the future of Schengen and Amendment of the Regulation establishing the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism

This opinion deals with the new Strategy for the future of Schengen issued by the European Commission last June. The Strategy is part of a broader effort to update and strengthen Schengen, which also includes a proposal to amend the regulation on the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism. In this opinion, the EESC welcomes the Commission's Strategy towards a fully functioning and resilient Schengen area and reaffirms its full support for the principles underlying Schengen cooperation. Nevertheless the opinion also advances some concerns, such as: reports of fundamental rights violations at the EU's external borders; the semi-permanent reintroduction of border controls at parts of Member States internal borders and the negative economic and social impact this has had on businesses, and in particular frontier workers, border communities and Euroregions. The EESC is also concerned about  the continued exclusion from full application of the Schengen acquis of the Member States Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia and it calls for swift and decisive action from the Council in this regard. Concerning the proposals to improve the functioning of the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism, the opinion expresses positive views, in particular with respect to the quicker follow-up, increased synergies with the Vulnerability Assessment Mechanism and increased and more horizontal attention to human rights, including the envisaged role for the Fundamental Rights Agency. However, care should be taken to ensure that the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism does not politicise issues of a more technical nature.