Commission will continue to find ways to improve the information gathering on migration flows within the Schengen area

The report on the state of the Schengen area was published by the European Commission. Among the conclusions, the Commission highlights that the Visa Information System (VIS) has worked well but the European institution will continue to find ways to improve the data collection and analysis of irregular migratory movements.

The report that provides a clear account of the state of the Schengen area, to ensure a coherent interpretation and implementation of the common rules amongst all Schengen participating countries, was published by the European Commission. The report consists in a biannual overview on the functioning of the Schengen area of free movement, that allows more than 400 million EU citizens from 26 European countries and an increasing number of non-EU citizens, to travel without internal border controls. Recently, the Commission also proposed to update the EU visa policy to spur the tourism.

Among the findings reported, during April-June 2012, approximately 23,000 irregular border crossings were detected, which represents a 44% decrease compared to the same period in 2011 in the midst of the Arab Spring. However, the detections at the land borders between Greece and Turkey reported a 29% increase. 56% of all detections were carried out at this border section, which remains the main entry point for irregular migration into the EU. With regard to the visa issuance procedures, on 10 May 2012, the Visa Information System (VIS) was successfully launched in the second region of deployment, the Near East (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria). On 2 October 2012, it started operations in a third region, the Gulf (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen). The report concluded that the VIS is working well and by 4 November 2012, the system had processed around 1.800.000 visa applications, issued around 1.500.000 and refused some 220.000 visas.

The report provides one of the basis for a debate in the European Parliament and in the Council and contributes to the strengthening of political guidance and cooperation between the Schengen countries. In addition, negotiations on two Schengen legislative proposals put forward in September 2011 are on-going and the Commission is optimistic that a satisfactory compromise between the legislators can be found.