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EU Approves Reformed Schengen Borders Code

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Photo: EU Approves Reformed Schengen Borders Code. Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko
Photo: EU Approves Reformed Schengen Borders Code. Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

On Friday, 24 May, the Council of the EU officially approved the updated Schengen Borders Code, a set of EU rules that govern the management of internal and external borders, as well as border control for individuals crossing the EU’s external borders. This was reported on the official website of the Council of the EU.

Significant changes have been introduced for situations involving major public health emergencies. According to the updated code, in such situations, the Council of the EU may implement coordinated temporary restrictions at the EU's external borders. In addition to travel restrictions, the Council can impose testing, quarantine, self-isolation, and other health measures for citizens of third countries entering the EU. It is worth recalling that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU could only issue non-binding recommendations regarding travel restrictions for member states.

To counter illegal migration, the revised Schengen Code allows member states to limit the number of border crossing points or reduce their operating hours, and also permits enhanced border surveillance.

The code also clarifies the existing framework for the reintroduction and extension of internal border controls in the event of a serious threat to public policy or internal security.

Specifically, internal border controls, which must be notified to the Commission, member states, and the European Parliament, can remain in place for a maximum of two years before being reintroduced. After this period, in exceptional circumstances, internal border control can be extended for another six months, with the possibility of further extensions for a total duration of up to one year.

The document states that the use of temporary border control should be an exceptional measure. Instead, countries should use alternative measures, such as police checks and cross-border cooperation.

The changes to the Schengen Code also include a new procedure allowing a member state to transfer third-country nationals, detained in the border area and illegally staying on its territory, to the member state from which they directly arrived.

This regulation will take effect on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and will be directly applicable in all EU countries.

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