First Schengen 'health check' - Euro-Mediterranean borders' perspective
Over 400 million Europeans currently enjoy passport-free travel across the Schengen area. With Europeans making more than 1.25 billion journeys every year, vigilance is required to defend citizens' right to free movement. Today, the Commission adopted its first 'health check', a biannual overview on the functioning of the Schengen area, which will contribute to enhancing political guidance and cooperation amongst Schengen participating countries. The pressure at the Schengen external borders is focused on a limited number of hot spots, in particular the Eastern Mediterranean route via Turkey to Greece. In the last three months of 2011, nearly 30 000 irregular border crossings were detected at the external borders and about 75 percent of these were on the Eastern Mediterranean route. Moreover, the launch of the Visa Information System (VIS) on 11 October 2011 has proved successful in the first region of deployment (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). All Schengen States’ consular posts worldwide should be connected to the Visa Information System within two years.
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