New Regulation reinforces checks at external borders
On 18 March 2017, a regulation amending the Schengen borders code was published in the EU Official Journal. The amendment aims to reinforce checks against relevant databases at the external borders.
However, where systematic consultation of databases could lead to a disproportionate impact on traffic flows at a sea or land border, member states are permitted to carry out only targeted checks against databases, provided that this will not lead to risks related to internal security, public policy, or the international relations of the member states, or pose a threat to public health.
With regard to air borders, member states may only carry out targeted checks against databases for a transitional period of 6 months from the entry into force of the regulation. This period may be extended by up to 18 months in exceptional and specific cases, where there are infrastructural difficulties requiring a longer period of time to make the necessary changes.
This regulation amending the Schengen borders code (SBC) was presented by the European Commission in December 2015. It is a response to the increase in terrorist threats and to the call from the Council in its conclusions of 9 and 20 November 2015 for a targeted revision of the SBC in the context of the response to "foreign terrorist fighters".
While member states are already obliged to check third country nationals systematically on entry against all databases for reasons of public order and internal security, the former provisions did not provide for such a check on exit in all databases. Moreover, persons enjoying the right to free movement are subject to a minimum check to establish their identities. This amendment will align the obligations to carry out systematic checks both at entry and at exit on third country nationals, as well as persons who enjoy the right of free movement.
The amendment provides for greater use of the Schengen Information System, the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents and national databases to improve the security of the EU and its citizens.
The amendment will enter into force 20 days after publication.
Regulation (EU) 2017/458 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders