EU countries agree to reform rules for Schengen Area

Countries in the European Union have agreed to oversee the border-free Schengen Area through regular ministerial meetings, said France in a move aimed at strengthening the political management of the area in the same manner euro zone gatherings steer economic policy.

Ministers meeting in Lille also agreed with another French proposal, which is aims at a step-by-step approach on plans to reform the EU’s asylum rules, which have been long stalled over disagreements between the member states.

Waves of migration, national security concerns, and the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic have led to the re-emergence of border controls in the Schengen Area drawing criticism over its functioning, eroding what had earlier been hailed as a milestone achievement in Europe’s post-World War Two integration.

In a statement French President Emmanuel Macron said, the “Schengen Council would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.”

He went on to add, “This Council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny”.

In a news conference, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said, the Council’s inaugural meeting will take place when the EU’s justice and home affairs ministers next meet on March 3.

The Schengen Area is the world’s largest passport-free zone, allowing the unrestricted movement of people between 26 European countries.

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