French president calls for overhaul of EU's Schengen Area
Speaking at a meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in northern France on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron called for an overhaul of the Schengen Area to provide coordination in times of crisis.
Backed by Germany and the European Commission, Macron proposed the creation of a “Schengen Council,” which would be managed by regular ministerial meetings, to evaluate how the zone operates and provide a united approach.
“This Council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny,” Macron said on Wednesday.
The announcement comes after the Covid pandemic saw EU nations implement border controls in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus, eroding the principle of free movement in the region. The restrictions, alongside concerns about national security and migration, were the motivating factors behind Macron’s proposal.
One measure presented to allow the EU to swiftly respond to a crisis is the implementation of an emergency response mechanism that could be triggered when the bloc’s frontiers are deemed to be under threat.
“Germany will support the French proposal. It is right and important to work together more closely in the Schengen Area,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.
The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, welcomed the proposal as a way to “strengthen the political governance of Schengen.”
The Schengen Area is currently the largest passport-free zone in the world, providing freedom of movement for the citizens of 26 European countries.