Solutions to shorten waiting times at border crossing points being sought
|Monday, 10 April 2017 07:27|
On Friday, 7 April, Slovenia started implementing mandatory systematic checks of all travellers (both EU citizens and third-country nationals) at the external Schengen border. Tougher checks are a result of the amended Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders.
Increased traffic had already been expected this last weekend as Easter holidays had started in some countries. As a transit country, Slovenia sees an above-average amount of traffic at this time of the year.
The new regime further exacerbated the delays at our borders. The extent of checks increased ten-fold compared to last year. In the last few days, the Obrežje border crossing point was crossed by 115,252 persons (73,117 on exit), Gruškovje by 65,456 persons (42,084 on exit), Starod by 33,645 persons (20,024 on exit), Sečovlje by 34,111 persons (19,536 on exit), Jelšane by 29,025 persons (16,051 on exit).
On the basis of a risk analysis and situation assessment at the external Schengen border, we adopted measures to reduce waiting times at border crossing points. This means that the police applied the principle of proportionality and suspended systematic checks of travellers who represented a lower security risk. The measure does not constitute a derogation from the Schengen acquis as such procedures are foreseen in the regulation referred to above.
The police will continue with these measures, while striving to find solutions which are both traveller-friendly and in line with the aim of the Regulation, which is to provide security in the Schengen area.
While the Regulation was being prepared, Slovenia consistently warned that it would cause long waiting times once implemented. We particularly advocated the proportionality of the measure. In our opinion, checks of all persons without any logical exceptions do not seem to be the type of measure which is proportionate to the aim of the Regulation. For this reason, Slovenia supported a wider array of exemptions from systematic checks (such as children under 12 and minors travelling with parents, students on organised excursions, elderly persons travelling in organised groups, holders of local border traffic permits).
Unfortunately, our fears have proved to be correct; therefore, the Ministry of the Interior will write to the European Commission today and describe the situation and difficulties faced by police officers and travellers at border crossing points. We will also present the measures that we have been implementing in order to normalise the situation. In the coming days, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior and the Police will meet with representatives of the European Commission and other Member States, to find ways of avoiding such difficulties in the future.
As other Member States affected by this measure (Hungary, Poland, Finland) have also reported delays at their borders, we are hopeful that together we can come to a solution that will enable travel without major delays at border crossing points.
Measures to loosen up waiting times at border crossings now in place (press release, 9. 4. 2017)
Tailbacks at main border crossings? Use a less frequented border post (press release, 7. 4. 2017)
Systematic border checks of all travellers at external Schengen borders to start on 7 April (press release, 29. 3. 2017)