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Improved free movement across borders with new Schengen rules


brussels bureau

Improved free movement across borders with new Schengen rules

The European Union should be a safe space against terrorism and organized crime, but can not be a fortress against migrants.

This is the spirit of the legislative packages for border control and asylum applications adopted by the European Parliament, this week.

MEPs have approved new rules that will allow countries in the free-travel Schengen area to reinstate border checks.

Members of the European Parliament stressed they would only apply in major emergencies and cannot be used unilaterally.

Increased migration flows are explicitly excluded.

The Schengen area is a passport-free travel zone made up of 22 EU countries and five non-EU members.

Five EU nations have signed up, including the UK.

“I am totally in favour of fighting organised crime and fighting terrorism, but then migration should never be in fact related to this. Migration is a totally different phenomenon, it is about people that for various reasons leave their homeland and come to the EU,” said Liberal MEP from Romania Renate Weber.

Lawmakers also backed a new Common Asylum System, which will bring in a standard six-month deadline to process an application, as left-wing Spanish MEP Antonio Masip Hidalgo explained.

“It is absolutely critical that , when an asylum seeker arrives for the first time in Europe, that he is not arrested and treated as a prisoner, that he is no longer treated as a common criminal, but treated with respect,” Hidalgo said.

The changes will also give police and member states access to a database containing asylum seekers’ fingerprints in some cases.

“We are building with the European Parliament very strong checks and controls and embedded it with a lot of security to have under certain conditions a check weather a name is in or not, if that person is wanted for very serious crime or terrorism,” said EU comissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom.

The legislation is set to enter into force in 2015.

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