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March 30, 2023

MEPs block draft laws to protest Schengen reform

The European parliament blocked talks with EU nations on five draft laws Thursday to protest being stripped of a say in the running of the visa-free Schengen area, its president Martin Schulz said, Focus News Agency informs.Parliamentary groups across the political spectrum, with the exception of the far right, are angry at a decision by home affairs ministers last week to change the legal basis of the 26-nation Schengen area. The change, which removes MEPs’ right to take part in decisions on monitoring Schengen borders, has set the 752-seat assembly on a collision course with the European Union’s member states.Some MEPs have threatened to lodge an appeal with the European Court of Justice.Schulz said the parliament would suspend negotiations on five draft laws “in response to a far-reaching decision” by the ministers.“This is unprecedented in the 18 years since I was elected to parliament,” he said.Conservative Joseph Daul, who heads the largest group in the parliament, said this week that his group would boycott Denmark, which as current rotating EU president was deemed responsible for the move.“The Danish presidency has broken a bond of trust with this parliament,” he said.In a landmark move the same day, the ministers also agreed to empower countries to temporarily restore frontier checks in the borderless travel zone in case of a surge of illegal migrants.Free travel through 26 European countries with 400 million inhabitants spanning more than four million square kilometres: this is the achievement of an agreement that was signed in the Luxembourgish town of Schengen 27 years ago, the site of the European Parliament notes. Yet after member states claimed on 7 June for themselves the right to decide under what conditions border controls could be reintroduced, the Parliament worries that the fundamental freedom of free movement may be under attack.All EU member states apart from Ireland, the UK, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus, are part of the Schengen area, which also includes the following non-EU states: Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.EU interior ministers agreed on 7 June to exclude the European Parliament and the European Commission from participating in the governance of the Schengen area.

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