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EU Starts Systematic Checks on Borders Targeting Foreign Militants | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Passengers at the check-in of the departure hall at Brussels Airport on the first day of its partial re-opening on May 2, 2016. AFP

Brussels – As of Friday, Member States of Schengen Area were obliged to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases on EU citizens who are crossing EU’s external borders, in addition to the systematic checks already being carried out on all third-country nationals entering the Schengen zone, said the EU commission.

Proposed by the Commission in a direct response to the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and the growing threat from foreign terrorist militants who returned from Iraq and Syria, the new rules – adopted by the Council on 7 March – strengthen the management of EU’s external borders.

The revision ensures a good balance between the current security challenges and the need to avoid disproportionate impacts on traffic flows at border crossings.

Alongside the ongoing roll-out of the European Border and Coast Guard, the reinforcement of the Schengen Borders Code reflects EU’s joint commitment to preserving the freedom of movement within the Schengen area and ensuring the security of EU citizens.

“Member states will as of Friday have an obligation to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases at the external borders, also on EU citizens,” a European Commission spokeswoman said Thursday.

This is “in order to verify that persons crossing the borders do not represent a threat to public order and internal security,” she said.

Previous rules required member states only to upload the data of non-EU citizens onto a safety registry upon entry into the bloc.

New legislature will also register the data of EU citizens, as well as anyone leaving the EU.

All 28 member states adopted the new legislature last month, as well as the four non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen agreement – Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

Brussels Airport in Zaventem saw very long queues in the early morning, although the situation improved later on.

Passengers had to wait 20 or 30 minutes at the passport checks. Brussels Airport sticks to its advice to passengers to arrive 2 to 3 hours before the scheduled departure.

Police think that the extra-long queues this morning were due to the fact that many travelers had come earlier than necessary.