EU ministers to tighten Schengen rules

Interior ministers of European Union agree on tightening Schengen visa rules and regulations

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Extraordinary meeting for Justice and Home Affairs Council at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, November 20, 2015.

Updated Jan 19, 2016

In light of the recent Paris attacks, EU interior and justice ministers gathered in Brussels on Friday to promise new measures on surveillance, border checks and gun control.

The Brussels meeting was in fact a crisis meeting orchestrated by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, following the deadly DAESH attack on the French capital which brutally killed 129 people across the city.

During the meeting, cracking down on firearms trafficking, unblocking stalled EU legislation on tracking airline passengers and tightening up passport checks at the external frontiers of Europe's open-border Schengen zones were priorities.

According to draft conclusions obtained by Reuters on Thursday, ministers will agree to "implement immediately the necessary systematic and coordinated checks at external borders, including on individuals enjoying the right of free movement."

"We can't lose any more time," Cazeneuve said.

France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve address a news conference after an extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, November 20, 2015.

"We asked for this meeting because we want Europe, which has lost too much time on issues that are urgent, take the decisions today which need to be taken," he added upon arrival for the talks.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, "We are here to show our French colleagues, and the French people, that we stand by them and that we are determined to make a tough, clear response."

The Passenger Name Record (PNR)

Under current travel regulations, the people of the 26 Schengen countries normally have their documents visually checked by security forces when they leave or enter the zone. The new proposal will likely force people to carry travel documents which will be systematically checked against criminal and security databases.

This is in addition to the controversial Passenger Name Record (PNR) programme, which has long been stalled in the European Parliament over concerns regarding individual privacy.

TRTWorld and agencies