05 MAY 2011
By Valentina Pop
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A mechanism allowing for temporary and "very limited" border checks to be reintroduced between member states could be set up only if the EU commission gets a central role in the management and evaluation of the border-free Schengen area.
"Who manages Schengen today? It's the member states who evaluate themselves. But we need Frontex, the European Commission, perhaps independent experts too," EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Wednesday during a press conference.
She compared the border-free area with the common currency before the financial crisis, when member states were also reluctant to give away national competence and grant the EU commission a greater say in the monitoring and co-ordination of economic policies.
The proposal to "europeanise" Schengen - an inter-governmental arrangement dating back to 1985 which grew to include 25 European countries - so as to give the commission a central role in evaluating the way border checks are carried out - comes against the backdrop of calls by Italy and France for greater flexibility in re-instating border controls when faced with irregular migration.
But commissioner Malmstrom said several member states had expressed their wariness about such a move.
If approved, the mechanism allowing the "very limited" reinstating of border checks would contain 'strict rules' and require a "common EU decision" to be triggered.
"The commission would have a role in this, absolutely, yes," Malmstrom said.
But she insisted that putting border guards back in the deserted national border cabins could only be done under exceptional circumstances. She also noted that Italy, home of 60 million people is currently "not under extreme migratory pressure" after the influx of some 25,000 Tunisians to the tiny island of Lampedusa.
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