FECL 12 (February 1993):

PORTUGAL REFRAINS FROM SIGNING BILATERAL AGREEMENT ON "HOT PURSUIT" WITH SPAIN

In a last minute decision, Portugal has refrained from signing a protocol with Spain on the right for the respective police forces of the two countries to cross the common borders in the event of "hot pursuit". The protocol was meant to enter into effect on 1 January 1993 and was is the first in a series of treaties aiming at the earliest possible implementation of the Schengen II Agreement at least on a bilateral level.

Agreement on the protocol had been reached last year at the conference of Iberian Ministers of Home Affairs in Evora. Spain and Portugal had conceded the right

to their respective police forces to operate within up to 50 kilometres and for two hours at most on the territory of the neighbour state, when pursuing persons taken read-handed while carrying out a criminal act related to drugs, terrorism or serious traffic delinquency.

After months of hesitation, the Portuguese president, Mario Soares, finally refused to sign the protocol on the grounds that, as opposed to other arrangements in the framework of the Schengen agreement, it had not been submitted to the parliament. This fact nurtured growing doubts of the president regarding the legality of the protocol, which he now wishes to submit to his staff of legal advisors for closer examination. Mr. Soares's last minute back-down has drawn the ire of the government of Prime Minister Cavaco Silva.

The delay angered government circles all the more as, in the teeth of mounting resistance of other signatory states, they had moved heaven and earth in order to implement the Schengen Agreement, on a bilateral Iberian level at least, at the planned date on 1 January 1993.

Indeed, both checks of goods and persons had already been abolished at different crossing points on the Portuguese-Spanish border at that date, despite the fact that the free movement of persons among the other Schengen member states is unlikely to become reality before next summer at the earliest.

Alexander Gschwind

 

Contact: Alexander Gschwind, Calle de la Caridad 35, E-28023 Pozuelo Alarcon, Tel:+34/1/7156601