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On 15 March 2017, a regulation amending the Schengen borders code (SBC) was adopted to reinforce checks against relevant databases at the external borders. It entered into force on 7 April 2017. This regulation was presented by the European Commission in December 2015 as a response to the steady increase of terrorist attacks and security threats over the past 2 years.

The new amendment introduces major regulations concerning entry and exit conditions at the Schengen external borders. It requires member States to do systematic identity checks using different databases (the Schengen Information System, the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel documents, and the national databases) on all persons travelling across the Schengen border, including those entitled to the right of free movement. In other words, this includes European citizens and members of their families that are not European citizens but who were previously only subject to a simplified identity check.

The Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders means that now, not only third countries nationals but every person crossing the Schengen border will be systematically controlled in order to preserve public order and security. This obligation applies to every external border of the zone, and both when entering and leaving the Schengen area.

These new measures focus on the security of the zone. « The carrying-out of checks at the external borders remains one of the main safeguards of the area without internal border control and significantly contributes to guaranteeing the long-term security of the Union and its citizens », the Regulation states.

However, the Regulation also states that in cases of a disproportionate disturbance of traffic flows, member States are allowed only to carry out targeted checks based on internal security, public order or public health. In those situations, members States must be certain that targeted it would not undermine the pursuit of these interests.

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An « unbearable » situation

As a matter of fact, systematic checks are now established at the border between Slovenia and Croatia, which is a major transit route in the Balkans. This new regulation has increased the waiting times at border crossings, with long waiting lines and traffic jams. « We waited one hour and a half at the Slovenian border and then one hour and a half at the Croatian Border. A total of three hours with two young children at the back of the car », a traveller told Euronews. Miro Cerar, the Slovenian Prime Minister said that this situation was « unbearable », only three days after the implementation of this new regulation. He also declared that he was working with Andrej Plenković, the Croatian Prime Minister, on new proposals to the European Commission in order to improve the situation as soon as possible. Dimitri Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, has decided to face the issue by temporarily imposing checks on third countries vehicles only. People in charge are now experimenting this new system, and are getting prepared for the holidays season. Romania is also particularly concerned by this new amendment because it has more than 2 000 kilometers of external border.

Sabrina Terentjew

Pour en savoir plus:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/03/07-regulation-reinforce-checks-external-borders/

Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council, 9 March 2016, on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) : http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0399&from=EN

Regulation amending regulation 2016/399 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders : http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-55-2016-INIT/en/pdf

http://sloveniabusinesschannel.com/2017/04/09/schengen-frontiere-sloveno-croate-apres-le-chaos-des-embouteillages-la-situation-se-normalise-peu-a-peu/

https://www.letemps.ch/monde/2017/04/10/slovenie-fustige-bouchons-aux-frontieres-exterieures-schengen

http://www.levif.be/actualite/international/nouveaux-controles-schengen-bouchons-monstres-a-la-frontiere-sloveno-croate/article-normal-642887.html

http://fr.euronews.com/2017/04/07/controles-renforces-aux-frontieres-de-l-ue-armez-vous-de-patience

https://www.total-croatia-news.com/lifestyle/17852-stricter-controls-coming-to-croatian-border-crossings

Map from: https://dabrownstein.com/2015/09/03/fenced-inforced-out/

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