Actions for more efficient rules on border crossing in the EU

The European Commission proposed on 10 March 2011 a series of measures to amend the Schengen Borders Code with the aim of facilitating the movement of people across EU internal and external borders in a controlled manner. These changes are intended to increase clarity in the current regulations and improve the system.

The changes proposed by the European Commission for the control of internal and external borders will enhance the clarity of the existing Regulation, responding to practical problems that have arisen during the first years of application of the Schengen Borders Code. The proposal focuses on:

  • Better cooperation between the EU and third countries: A legal framework for bilateral agreements related to joint border checks on road traffic will reinforce cooperation at land borders between EU Member States and neighbouring third countries. The practical added value of the proposals is clear.
  • Speeding up border control: The possibility of creating separate lanes for visa-free travellers will provide for additional flexibility in accordance with practical needs.
  • Reduction of unnecessary red-tape: The administrative burden on intra-EU cargo ships, international train crews and offshore workers will be lighter. For instance, internal cargo operators will benefit from the absence of internal border controls in the same way as internal ferry operators, which is not the case today.
  • Increased legal certainty for travellers and border guards: The entry conditions for third country nationals will be clarified, through a clearer determination of the calculation method for "stays not exceeding three months per six-month period" and of the required length of validity of travel documents of non visa holders.
  • Improved training of border guards: In order to detect situations involving particularly vulnerable people (i.e. unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking), specialised training will be developed for border guards.

After four years of practical application, the need for a number of practical and technical amendments to the Schengen Borders Code has emerged. The underlying principles of the system, however, will not change. Already in November 2010, the Commission proposed a series of measures to improve the system of inspections at border posts which again demonstrated the need to address these reforms. The proposed amendments will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament. The Commission hopes that its proposal can be adopted rapidly.