To protect the highly-valued freedom of movement in the EU, the rules governing the Schengen area must be revised very soon. This is the EPP Group's message ahead of the upcoming new

strategy on the future of the Schengen area that the European Commission will present in June.

"The Schengen area is one of Europe’s greatest achievements. However, the crises of recent years, such as migratory pressure, terrorist threats and the COVID pandemic, show that we cannot take it for granted. We need to work together to ensure that our freedom of movement is not put at risk, namely adopting the new Pact for Asylum and Migration and implementing all our new Information Systems in time", said Paulo Rangel MEP today, as MEPs in the European Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee adopt a Report on the state of the Schengen area.

As the EPP Group negotiator on the Schengen Report, Rangel said: "In order to protect the health of citizens during the pandemic, travel restrictions and border controls were introduced. Our freedom of movement across Europe was temporarily put on hold. As we now look towards an easing of restrictions, national governments must work together under the leadership of the European Commission. The EU Digital COVID Certificate is an important step to re-starting the European economy, in particular tourism, and ensuring effective and safe work across borders. Now it is in the hands of national governments to have the certificate up and running by 1 July."

"As regards the upcoming strategy, lessons must be learned from the past eight years, since we last reformed the Schengen governance. Much has changed and too much is not working. We need more coordination at EU level, with an enhanced role for the European Commission. We also need to step up better police cooperation between Member States, to set up a real crisis mechanism and most importantly to boost mutual trust between Member States. The focus should be on finding the right balance between managing risks properly and ensuring a fully-fledged area of free movement. Crucially too, we must ensure that the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism is more agile, flexible and able to react to emergency situations. We also expect the Commission and the Council to honour the commitment to respect this House as a co-legislator", Rangel concluded.

Photo by carrasco, Wikimedia commons.