On March 7, 2017, the EU Council adopted a regulation amending the Schengen borders code to reinforce checks against relevant databases at the external borders.
The amendment obliges member states to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases on all persons, including those enjoying the right of free movement under EU law (i.e. EU citizens and members of their families who are not EU citizens) when they cross the external borders. The databases against which checks will be carried out include the Schengen Information System (SIS) and Interpol`s database on stolen and lost travel documents (SLTD). The checks will also enable member states to verify that those persons do not represent a threat to public policy, internal security or public health. This obligation shall apply at all external borders (air, sea and land borders), both at entry and exit, the European Council said in a press release.
However, where systematic consultation of databases could lead to a disproportionate impact on traffic flows at a sea or land border, member states are permitted to carry out only targeted checks against databases, provided that this will not lead to risks related to internal security, public policy, or the international relations of the member states, or pose a threat to public health.
With regard to air borders, member states may only carry out targeted checks against databases for a transitional period of 6 months from the entry into force of the regulation. This period may be extended by up to 18 months in exceptional and specific cases, where there are infrastructural difficulties requiring a longer period of time to make the necessary changes.
The Council and the European Parliament now need to sign the adopted regulation. The signed text will be published in the EU Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days later.