Press release, Justice and Home Affairs, Transport, Telecommunications and Energy

Internal border controls to be lifted between the new and old Member States as of 31 December 2007 and 29 March 2008

05 Dec 2006, 15:28 en fi sv

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 4-5 December, Brussels

Internal border controls between the new and old Member States will be lifted at land and sea borders as of 31 December 2007 and at airports as of 29 March 2008, providing that the new Member States fulfil all the prerequisites for applying the Schengen acquis. The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) set a timetable for the enlargement of the Schengen area in Brussels today, on Tuesday 5 December, under the chairmanship of Finnish Minister of the Interior Kari Rajamäki.

"We are preparing for a very significant enlargement of the Schengen area. The abolition of internal border controls will have a great impact on the security of our citizens. For this reason, we must make sure that the Schengen Information System is secure and that the new Member States are ready to fulfil all the requirements of the Schengen acquis," said Mr Rajamäki at the JHA Council.

A necessity for lifting internal border controls is a functioning Schengen Information System. The justice and home affairs ministers decided that the SISone4all solution would be applied to integrate the new Member States (Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia) into the current Schengen Information System (SIS 1+). If the decision hadbeen made to integrate the new Member States directly into the new Schengen Information System (SIS II), the date for lifting internal border controls would have been postponed for at least one year.

According to the Council, the SISone4all should be finalised by mid-October 2007 to allow the Schengen evaluations of SIS related aspects to begin in November 2007. The results of the evaluations should be confirmed by the Council by the end of 2007 so that internal border controls can be abolished as of 31 December 2007.

"Finland, Germany and Portugal have jointly prepared a timetable according to which the final decision to lift internal border controls could be made by the end of 2007. In our view, this timetable is realistic and viable," Mr Rajamäki said.

The development of the SISone4all solution will affect the timetable for the SIS II. The new system is expected to be ready for use in 2008 at the earliest.

For further information, please contact Laura Yli-Vakkuri, Senior Adviser for Legal Affairs, tel. +358 9 160 44651; Kari Rantama, Deputy National Police Commissioner, tel. +358 9 160 42909; Seppo Aunola, Chief Police Inspector, tel. +358 9 160 44684; or Kalle Kekomäki, Counsellor, tel. +358 9 160 42777



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