Schengen-samarbeidet: statusrapport 2023

Schengen-samarbeidet: statusrapport 2023

Meddelelse fra Kommisjonen til Europaparlamentet, Rådet, Den europeiske økonomiske og sosiale komite og Regionsutvalget. Schengen-statusrapport 2023
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. State of Schengen Report 2023

Omtale publisert i Stortingets EU/EØS-nytt 25.5.2023

Nærmere omtale

BAKGRUNN (fra Kommisjonens meddelelse 16.5.2023)

The Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism: main developments and next steps

The Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism is the key safeguard to ensuring that the Schengen area functions well, allowing for the timely identification and remedying of strategic vulnerabilities. Teams of Member State and Commission experts, supported by EU agencies and bodies, evaluate every Member State and Schengen Associated Country fully applying the Schengen acquis at least once every seven years. It is also the framework for verifying if the necessary conditions for the application of the Schengen acquis have been met in Member States in respect of which there is no Council decision to apply the Schengen acquis in full or in part yet, except for those Member States whose evaluation was already completed when the new Schengen evaluation monitoring mechanism Regulation (Regulation) 1 entered into force.

In accordance with Article 25 of the Regulation, the Commission shall report on the evaluations carried out during the previous year and the conclusions drawn from there, on the functioning of the pool of experts, including the availability of Member State experts and on the state of play regarding remedial actions taken by the Member States.

Evaluation activities carried out in 2022

In 2022, the Commission concluded the second programming cycle of Schengen evaluations, with visits to Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Portugal. In addition, Greece, Italy, Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Belgium, Austria, France and The Netherlands were evaluated on their implementation of the common visa policy 2 . Luxembourg also underwent an evaluation to assess the implementation of data protection requirements.

These Member States each received evaluation teams assessing if external borders are managed up to the required standards and evaluating measures within the Schengen area, including the effective implementation of the return policy, police cooperation and the Schengen Information System. Measures in third-countries under the visa policy were also part of the evaluation activities. Particular attention was paid to verifying respect for fundamental rights in the application of the Schengen acquis, including the implementation of the applicable data protection requirements.

During all evaluations carried out in 2022, strategic elements at national level were addressed to provide the evaluation teams with a good understanding of the central organisation and strategy of the authorities, including elements such as training and human resources, risk analysis and contingency planning, for the implementation of the Schengen acquis. These points were assessed with visits to central authorities, including the national operational coordination centres, police headquarters, ministries and the SIRENE bureaus. The visits at strategic level were implemented hand in hand with visits to the operational level, such as key border crossing points and international airports, police stations and detention centres.

Results of other monitoring mechanisms, in particular the Frontex vulnerability assessment, were duly taken into account in preparing and conducting the evaluation activities, thus ensuring up-to-date situational awareness.

The Schengen evaluations in 2022 provide an overall picture of the implementation of the Schengen acquis in the Schengen area, across Member States. While overall the level of implementation of the Schengen acquis is at a high level, during the 2022 evaluations, serious deficiencies were identified on three occasions. The closure of action plans that concern serious deficiencies 3 is an absolute priority for the Schengen area. The majority of the serious deficiencies identified during the last year have either been resolved or are currently being addressed. In particular, in the area of external border management, the evaluation of Spain revealed low quality and deficient border checks at the majority of the visited border crossing points. Swift remedial steps have been taken to resolve the connectivity and other technical problems of the border check systems and the Commission will carry out a revisit this year to assess these developments. Furthermore, in the case of Iceland, serious deficiencies were identified in the field of police cooperation due to the ineffectiveness of the search capabilities of the Icelandic police force. As a consequence, police officers were not capable of systematically detecting active alerts in the Schengen Information System alerts. As soon as they were notified, the Icelandic authorities have taken steps to address this issue. A verification visit is also scheduled for this year. Finally, the serious delays in granting appointments by external service providers to lodge visa applications in the Netherlands were considered a serious deficiency. The Dutch authorities committed to address this issue as a priority and the Commission is further monitoring the remedial actions being implemented.

Furthermore, based on the results of the evaluations it is possible to identify some common issues in several Member States, which require special attention:

·The 2022 evaluations of the management of the external borders showed weak governance of the European integrated border management in some Member States and low inter-agency cooperation. The overall low quality of border checks, in particular at the sea borders, weak sea border surveillance combined with a lack of coherence in risk analysis and scattered situational awareness in most of the evaluated Member States in 2022, remain the main issues of concern.

·Evaluations revealed that there is an increased commitment to work towards a more effective return policy, as compared to evaluations carried out in previous years. However, there is no sufficient focus yet to improving the internal aspects of return and the available tools are not fully exploited. The limitations in cooperation as well as the absence of effective return case management systems hamper considerably the possibility to carry our returns.

· While most Member States showed good compliance with the relevant Schengen acquis in the field of police cooperation, a recurrent issue was the limited or lacking access of police units to the Visa Information System for the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and other serious criminal offences. Many Member States did not have a system in place to guarantee such access.

· A constant in all visa evaluations in 2022 was the significant delays in granting appointments for visa applicants to submit their applications and/or in processing them. The cooperation of Member State consulates with External Service Providers and the monitoring was often found suboptimal.

· The evaluations verifying the use of the Schengen Information System brought to light that many Member States do not yet use the fingerprint search functionality sufficiently. The display of all available data, such as photographs and fingerprints, in the national SIS applications is not yet optimal.

· Evaluations verifying the respect of the data protection requirements in the implementation of the Schengen acquis showed that some Member States still need to provide the data protection authorities with sufficient human and financial resources to enable them to carry out their Schengen-related tasks, in particular as the data protection authorities cannot always conduct the mandatory data protection audits.

In accordance with the reinforced Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism, which became applicable in October 2022, the Commission also organised in February 2023 the first verification visit to Belgium to monitor the progress made in the implementation of the action plan related to the 2020 evaluation in the field of external borders management. Progress was observed with regards to strategic coordination and actions are ongoing to consolidate the national coordination and inter-agency cooperation.

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