Sunday

19th Nov 2017

EU agrees on Schengen checks for all

  • EU states committed to make more use of Schengen and Europol databases (Photo: Paolo Margari)

The EU will change the Schengen borders code to introduce systematic checks for EU citizens at the external borders of the EU free travel area.

At an extraordinary meeting in Brussels Friday (20 November) EU justice and interior ministers asked the commission to make a proposal early next year when the commission presents its Smart Borders package to upgrade technologies at Schengen entry points.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In the meantime, member states decided "to implement immediately the necessary systematic and coordinated checks at external borders".

That means border guards will systematically check in the Schengen Information System (SIS) whether EU travelers are considered dangerous and merit being searched by the police. Until now, only the authenticity of the passport has been verified.

The measure was pushed by France in the wake of the attacks in Paris last Friday (20 December) after it became clear that some of the terrorists travelled freely from Syria on EU passports.

"We need to check Europeans because the threat comes from within," a French official said.

'Ruthless reaction'

The meeting had been called by France after the attacks to take "urgent measures."

"Our collective reaction must be ruthless," French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference.

"We have to put an end to promises that are not followed up on, to procrastination and tardiness," he said. "Otherwise, Europe will lose itself."

Ministers also agreed to step up the use of databases, such as the SIS, the Interpol database and national police databases, as well as new technology tools, "in the context of the current migrant crisis".

All migrants, even asylum seekers, will be checked and information on them, including fingerprints, will be put into databases.

Experts from Europol, the EU police support agency, will be deployed in the hotspots where migrants are being registered, in Greece and Italy.

Passengers record

Ministers also pressed the European Parliament to agree before the end of the year on a Europe-wide passenger names record (PNR).

They want the PNR to concern EU internal as well as external flights. They also want data to be accessible for a year, and not only for transnational crimes.

The PNR is currently being negotiated amongst member states, the commission and the parliament. The parliament, which has been critical of the plan, accepts only a PNR for external flights and with a data-retention period of just one month.

"One month is not serious," Cazeneuve said, adding that "PNR is essential to follow up on fighters returning from abroad".

Luxembourg interior minister Etienne Schneider told reporters he was confident a deal could be reached before the end of the year.

Arms trafficking

France also came with demands to curb arms trafficking, especially from the western Balkans. The commission is being asked to present an operational action plan by the end of the year, and police cooperation will be increased.


Ministers committed to increase police cooperation against terrorist fighters and on information-sharing. France and the commission complained that member states do not input into and check against the EU databases sufficiently.

Before the meeting, home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos had floated the idea of a EU intelligence agency.

But at the post-meeting press conference, Cazeneuve said they were "not here to talk about tomorrow's concept but to act today," while Avramopoulos admitted the EU agency was only "an ideal" that was not discussed.

"The voice of France was heard," the commissioner said in French about the meeting.

But if French demands are not met with quick action, normal Schengen rules could be suspended for some time.

"France will maintain border controls as long as the terrorist threat makes it necessary," Cazeneuve said.

EU citizens to be checked at Schengen borders

EU justice and interior ministers meeting Friday will ask the commission to change the Schengen area rules and will push for better use of technologies to control external and internal borders.

EU ministers back air passenger data sweep

After years of talks, EU interior ministers backed a proposal to set up an EU PNR system but it still needs the backing of the European Parliament.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse