Council agrees its negotiating position to reinforce checks at external borders
Joaquín Nogueroles Garcia
The Council agreed its negotiating position on the proposed regulation to reinforce checks against relevant databases at external borders. On the basis of this mandate, the Netherlands presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as the latter has adopted its position.
"Strengthening our common external borders by reinforcing border controls is an important means to fight terrorism and protect the safety of European citizens", said Klaas Dijkhoff, Minister for Migration of the Netherlands.
The proposal obliges member states to carry out systematic checks on all persons, including persons enjoying the right of free movement under EU law (i.e. EU citizens and members of their families who are not EU citizens) when they cross the external border against databases on lost and stolen documents, as well as in order to verify that those persons do not represent a threat to public order and internal security. This obligation shall apply at all external borders (air, sea and land borders), both at entry and exit.
However, where a systematic consultation of databases on all persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law could lead to a disproportionate impact on the flow of traffic at a sea and land border, member states may carry out only targeted checks against databases, provided that a risk assessment shows this does not lead to risks related to internal security, public policy, international relations of the member states or a threat to public health.
As regards air borders, the Council agreed that member states may use this possibility, but only during a transitional period of 6 months from the entry into force of the amended regulation.
This regulation to amend the Schengen Borders Code (SBC) was presented by the European Commission in December 2015. It is a response to the increase of terrorist threats and to the call from the Council in its Conclusions of 9 and 20 November 2015 for a targeted revision of the SBC in the context of the response to "foreign terrorist fighters".
While member states are obliged to check third country nationals systematically on entry against all databases, the current provisions do not provide that on exit, checks for public order and internal security reasons have to be carried out in a systematic way. The amendment will align the obligations to include systematic checks on exit to ensure that a third country national does not present a threat to public policy and internal security.