FECL 49 (December 1996/January 1997):

INCORPORATION OF "SCHENGEN" INTO EU DISCUSSED AT INFORMAL MEETING

"Schengen" shall be incorporated into the European Union, according to a three phase strategy outlined and discussed at the informal part of a meeting of the Schengen Executive Committee on 27 June 1996.

The basic idea of the plan is to create a fait accompli through practical cooperation at secretariat level, co-ordination of the decision-making institutions work and, if necessary, with the help of a "flexibility clause" leaving out the EU countries which are not willing to follow the plan.

For Norway and Iceland, which are not members of the EU, but have signed a treaty of full association with Schengen, the question is whether this plan will not gradually lead them into de facto EU-membership.

In a note to the IGC (the EU’s Intergovernmental Conference), written by Michiel Patijn from the Dutch delegation at the IGC, it says:

"We have at an earlier meeting under the IGC discussed Schengen’s possible integration into the EU. (...) This unofficial document focuses on a strategy in three phases according to the following pattern:

Phase 1: practical cooperation, whereby the Schengen secretariat is placed together and incorporated into the EU
Council’s secretariat and meetings of Schengen fora and corresponding EU fora are held directly after each other.

Phase 2: transfer of the Schengen institutions’ planning and decision authority to the EU institutions, whereby
effective Schengen regulations are still maintained separately from effective EU legislation. This phase presupposes
that the work of the IGC results in a streamlining of the structure of the Third Pillar.

Phase 3: full incorporation of effective Schengen regulations into effective EU law".

The original unofficial document referred to by Mr Patijn, stresses that the above strategy presupposes a change of the British position at the IGC with respect to Third Pillar cooperation in general and free movement of persons in particular. If the British government accepts the Schengen agreements’ objectives and effective Schengen regulations, this will open the way for full incorporation into the EU, the document says. If not, the third phase will have to be limited to a solution based on a "flexibility clause", which is also being discussed at the IGC.

According to the Dutch note to the IGC, "almost everybody" at the 27 June 1996 meeting of the Schengen Executive Committee accepted the first phase of the Dutch strategy paper and wanted it to start as quickly as possible. Some delegates, however, expressed some scepticism regarding the chances for the second and third phase to be realised as long as the IGC does not come closer to an agreement on the future functioning of the Third Pillar. Nonetheless, according to Mr Patijn, there was "broad agreement" at the meeting that a "pragmatic approach" to the whole process of the incorporation of Schengen into the EU was necessary.

Mads Bruun Pedersen (Copenhagen)

 

Sources: Note from the Dutch delegation to the IGC: ‘Third Pillar: Schengen and the European Union’, Brussels, 15.7.96, CONF/3872/96 Limite, with annexe: ‘Unofficial document: Schengen and the European Union’ (Quotations from these documents are our translations from Danish).