The EESC highly appreciates the first activation of the Temporary Protection Directive 2001/55/EC in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The current activation of the Directive could well be used to develop solidarity mechanisms among the Member States. It strongly supports an urgent need for effective, genuine, humane – and humanitarian – common European regulations on migration, asylum and security cooperation in an open, but equally secure Schengen area, in full accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The consequences of the war are also a threat for the European model of the social market economy as well as for the freedom and rights of EU citizens and other inhabitants. The EESC encourages preserving and valuing the Schengen area as it is currently constituted, to guarantee not only the free movement of human beings, but also the functioning of the Single Market.
Communication on a Strategy for the future of Schengen and Amendment of the Regulation establishing the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism - Related Opinions
The EESC supports the proposal to provide the Agency with its own permanent operational arm made up of 10 000 staff, while it recommends that cooperation between the Agency and the national administrations be defined and organised at European level in a clear and transparent manner.
Given the role which would be played by the Agency in the event of detention of individuals and their potential return to their countries of origin, the Committee recommends that statutory staff are given training modules on respect for fundamental rights.
The Committee calls for the EESC to be part of the Consultative Forum.
The EESC considers the intention to create ETIAS as a currently inevitable step corresponding to the threats caused by external and internal circumstances. ETIAS should be based on the right balance between risks and safety, at the same time avoiding increased administrative burdens and barriers for people travelling to the EU. The Committee stresses that ETIAS should fully respect the fundamental rights of applicants and avoid any discrimination. All data gathered by the system must be protected and access to it should be strictly limited. All applicants should be allowed to use the services of intermediaries to obtain the travel authorisation, if needed. However, the costs charged by these intermediaries for their services should be monitored and evaluated by EU delegations in the third countries.