THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
– points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest setbacks for cross-border cooperation; stresses that cross-border cooperation is at the very heart of the European integration project and one of the biggest successes of the European Union;
– agrees that internal border controls should always be a measure of last resort and recommends that controls at internal borders should strictly be limited to a maximum of 24 months in total;
– recommends that a notification by a Member State of temporary reintroduction of internal border controls ought to include reasons as to why alternative measures are not appropriate and the position of the authority or authorities governing the local administrative areas considered as the cross-border regions under Article 39(1)(h);
– underlines that as it stands, the proposed definition of the concept of instrumentalisation in the Schengen Borders Code is overly broad and unclear, leaving room for misinterpretations. Member States should take the necessary measures to ensure that a sufficient number of registration points, including crossing points, are open and accessible to applicants for international protection in order to guarantee effective protection against refoulement, including the right to make an application for international protection, and that appropriate safeguards for the treatment of vulnerable people are in place;
– calls on the European Commission to thoroughly rework the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council addressing situations of instrumentalisation in the field of migration and asylum (Instrumentalisation Regulation), in line with its Better Regulation Guidelines and good law-making principles, and to revise its proposal of the revised Schengen Borders Code accordingly, in line with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality under Article 5 TEU;
– calls for the enlargement of the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania, provided that they effectively implement the Schengen acquis, and supports the envisaged enlargement to include Croatia as of 1st January 2023.