The Prime Minister demands the restoration of the border with Slovenia: “Questions of national security”
“The suspension of the Schengen Treaty on free movement in Europe was necessary due to the worsening of the situation in the Middle East, the increase in migratory flows along the Balkan route and above all for national security issuesand I take full responsibility for it.” Giorgia Meloni on social media claims the choice made today when “with the Minister of the Interior Matteo Piantedosi we communicated at European level the decision of the Italian Government to restore controls at the border between Italy and Slovenia“.
“We talked about it with our Slovenian colleagues – underlines Meloni – with whom we renewed our full collaboration on combating the flow of illegal migrants”.
What is the Schengen area
The freedom of movement of people is one of the pillars of the European Union. This is guaranteed by the Schengen acquis, a set of rules and provisions that arise from the intergovernmental cooperation agreement signed in 1985 in Schengen, a village in southern Luxembourg, on the border with France and Germany, on the gradual abolition of border controls. The convention that implemented that agreement dates back to 1990; the rules began to be implemented in 1995, initially between 7 member states. Born as intergovernmental agreements, they were then incorporated into the body of legislation that governs the EU. Today the Schengen agreements concern 22 EU states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are outside the Schengen area; the United Kingdom was and still is outside the Schengen area); Bulgaria and Romania have the technical requirements to join, but have not yet entered the free movement area, which also includes some non-EU states, such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
In practice, the Schengen space is an area in which EU citizens enjoy freedom of movement between the states that are part of it, without being subjected to border controls: every day 3.5 million people, on average, cross a internal border of the EU. This is a freedom that has limits: all EU citizens can travel to another EU country for tourism for a period of up to three months, simply by having a valid passport or identity card. All EU citizens can live in another country in the area for work, under local laws, with the right to be treated in the same way as citizens of that country. Entrepreneurs can open businesses in other EU countries and students can study anywhere in the Union. According to Commission estimates, closing the internal borders of the Schengen area would cost between 100 and 230 billion euros over 10 years, preventing 1.7 million people from commuting across borders.
The Schengen rules have abolished internal border controls: once you have entered the area, you can move between one country and another without being subject to border controls. However, police checks are possible, and are often carried out, i.e. not systematic but targeted (for example, the officer can ask to identify himself and ask questions about the purpose of the trip). There are exceptions: freedom of movement can be suspended by a Member State, exceptionally and temporarily, in the face of a “serious” threat.
Border controls reintroduced exceptionally should be reduced to the minimum necessary to address the threat and their duration is, in theory, limited to a maximum of six months. In practice, things often work out differently.
The communication of Palazzo Chigi
“The Italian Government – Palazzo Chigi communicates in a note – has communicated the reintroduction of controls at the internal land borders with Slovenia, based on article 28 of the Schengen Border Code (EU Regulation 2016/339). The reintroduction of controls at internal borders, already adopted in the Schengen area, was communicated by Minister Piantedosi to the Vice President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas, to the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, to the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, to the Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Thérèse Blanchet and the Interior Ministers of the EU Member States and the Schengen associated countries”.