What is happening to the Schengen borders?

Author(s): 
Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild, Kees Groenendijk, Evelien Brouwer

What is happening to the Schengen borders? Is Schengen in ‘crisis’? This paper examines the state of play in the Schengen system in light of the developments during 2015. It critically examines the assertion that Schengen is ‘in crisis’ and seeks to set the record straight on what has been happening to the intra-Schengen border-free and common external borders system. The paper argues that Schengen is here to stay and that reports about the reintroduction of internal border checks are exaggerated as they are in full compliance with the EU rule of law model laid down in the Schengen Borders Code and subject to scrutiny by the European Commission. It also examines the legal challenges inherent to police checks within the internal border areas as having an equivalent effect to border checks as well as the newly adopted proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard system.

The analysis shows that the most far-reaching challenge to the current and future configurations of EU border policies relates to ensuring that they are in full compliance with fundamental human rights obligations to refugees, effective accountability and independent monitoring of the implementation of EU legal standards. This should be accompanied by a transparent and informed discussion on which ‘Schengen’ and which 'common European Border and Coast Guard Agency' we exactly want within current democratic rule of law and fundamental rights remits.

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