MEPs are calling for a swift reopening of the EU’s internal borders and return to a fully functional Schengen area, expressing their concern about remaining internal border controls and their impact on people and businesses.
A resolution to this effect was overwhelmingly adopted by MEPs with 520 votes in favour, 86 against and 59 abstentions.
MEPs said that a swift return to a fully-functional Schengen area was crucial to safeguard freedom of movement – which they described as one of the main achievements of European integration, and to ensure the EU’s economic recovery after the pandemic.
They expressed their opposition to any bilateral action by individual EU countries, insisting that the principle of non-discrimination should be respected in the reopening of borders.
MEPs have also called for a discussion on a recovery plan for Schengen to prevent any temporary internal border controls from becoming semi-permanent. The plan should include a contingency plan in case of a potential second wave of the Covid-19 pandeimc.
“While it is good news that more and more internal border restrictions are being lifted, the way in which it has been done leaves a lot to be desired,” Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, the chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, said.
“Without the return to a fully functional Schengen Area, we are still missing an essential stepping-stone on our way to recovery. A complete return to free movement, no discrimination, mutual trust and solidarity are of utmost importance and core values of the EU.”
The Schengen area presently includes 22 of the EU’s 27 member states – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania remain outside of it – as well as the non-EU states of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.