Strengthening Borders, Boosting Security &  Facilitating Travel Main Priorities for EU

The Commission of the European Union has released the annual report on the State of Schengen, disclosing the progress and challenges faced by the Schengen Area in 2023 and, at the same time, laying out priorities for this year.

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In the year that we left behind, the Schengen Area witnessed continued growth and stability, with it remaining the most visited destination in the world.

In 2023 alone, the Schengen member states issued more than ten million Schengen visas. During the same year, over half a billion passengers visited the Schengen Area, significantly contributing to the EU’s economic growth, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

In the report, the Commission has highlighted several other achievements and developments in the Schengen Area during 2023 and so far this year.

According to the Commission, new rules that are aimed at strengthening border controls and enhancing cooperation between the Schengen member states have been implemented.

Another achievement is that a stronger role for the Schengen Council has been established, and different tools, including the Eva and Monitoring Mechanism, have been utilised to ensure more effective management of the Schengen Area.

The partial accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Area has been listed as another important development.

Moreover, the report also emphasises the efforts made in exploring alternative measures to replace internal border controls, the cooperation on protecting the Schengen borders between the member states, and maintaining security while facilitating the free movement of people.

Building on the work of the Schengen Coordinator, the Commission calls on Member States to make increased use of reinforced frameworks of cooperation, such as cross-border police cooperation in border regions as an alternative to internal border controls.

Commission of the EU

EU Updates Practices for Supporting Member States in Implementing Schengen Rules

In addition to sharing the achievements made so far, the Commission noted that it has updated its practices to provide tools, strategies, and measures for the purpose of supporting member states’ authorities in implementing the Schengen rules.

It also addresses areas that need improvement. As stressed, improvements need to be made to ensure the quality of border control measures.

Additional efforts also need to be made to return those who do not hold the necessary documents to their home countries and exchange information between the member states.

Lastly, the Commission said that the use of the Schengen Information System needs to be maximised for enhanced security and border management.

For the first time this year, the Commission has proposed a Council Recommendation for the next Schengen cycle. In the proposal, the Commission has recommended that the focus should remain on border security, governance, digitalisation, and improved cooperation for returns, among others.