The European Union yesterday introduced new rules to further protect free movement in the countries which make up the Schengen area.
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders. However, in recent months some countries, most notably Italy and France, had started to introduce border checks following an influx of immigrants from North Africa entering Europe illegally.
The new rules, though, mean that EU inspection teams will be able to make unannounced visits to internal borders to check that no unlawful border checks are being carried out.
The Schengen Borders Code does allow internal border checks to be temporarily imposed in exceptional circumstances that could constitute a serious threat to public policy or internal security. However, the Union says that: “migration and the crossing of external borders by a large number of third-country nationals should not, per se, be considered to be a threat to public policy or to internal security”.
“The right to free movement of our citizens is fundamental to our Union, explained Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, ”Rather than weakening this right, as some had wanted, the Schengen area will come out strengthened.”