PART 1: INTRODUCTION
1. The free movement of people is one of the
four basic freedoms set out in the 1957 Treaty of Rome ("the
Article 3(c) lists among the Community's activities "the
abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to the free
movement of goods, persons, services and capital". The Treaty
on European Union, agreed in Maastricht in 1992, amended that
provision to include a reference to the internal market and stated,
in Article 7a, that " the internal market shall comprise
an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement
of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance
with the provisions of this Treaty". Citizens of the Union
enjoy "the right to move and reside freely within the territory
of the Member States" under Article 8a of the EC Treaty,
but this right is "subject to the limitations and conditions
laid down in this Treaty and by the measures adopted to give it
2. The 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam expressly recognises
the UK's right to maintain controls at its frontiers with other
Member States while also preserving its Common Travel Area with
Ireland. This right is set out in a Protocol on Article 7a.
Under its terms, the other Member States may maintain their frontier
controls "on persons seeking entry to their territory from
the UK . . . or from Ireland".
3. A key objective of the European Union, once
the Amsterdam Treaty enters into force, will be "to maintain
and develop the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice,
in which the free movement of persons is assured in conjunction
with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls,
asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime".
There is a new Title IV in the EC Treaty on visas, asylum, immigration
and other policies related to the free movement of persons. Title
VI of the Treaty on European Union covers police and judicial
co-operation in criminal matters. The incorporation of the Schengen
agreements through a Protocol attached to the Treaty is a major
element in implementing the area of freedom, security and justice.
All existing Schengen measures, referred to collectively as the
"Schengen acquis", must be allocated to a legal
base in the Community (First) or intergovernmental (Third) Pillar.
The UK has an opt-out of all existing Schengen measures.
If it wishes to participate in any of this acquis, it must
gain the approval of the 13 EU Schengen States. A further Protocol
states that the UK and Ireland shall not take part in or be bound
by decisions under the new Title IV of the EC Treaty, but there
is provision to enable either country to opt in to future Title
IV measures before or after their adoption.
4. The Schengen Agreement and Convention have
as their aim the creation of an area without internal border controls,
with compensatory measures to increase security at the external
frontier and supporting measures to fight illegal immigration
and increase co-operation between police forces.
5. Thirteen out of the fifteen EU Member States
have chosen to join the Schengen system, with only the United
Kingdom and Ireland remaining outside. In addition, two non-EU
countries, Iceland and Norway have agreed to formal co-operation
with the Schengen countries.
6. The Schengen Protocol requires separate agreements
between Iceland, Norway and the thirteen EU members within the
system, and between these two states and the United Kingdom and
Ireland, to cover the different patterns of reciprocal rights
and obligations which flow from the British and Irish opt-outs.
In 1998, this Committee reported on Incorporating the Schengen
Acquis into the European Union.
That report examined the technical question of how the Schengen
could be brought within the European Union framework with different
measures divided appropriately between the Community "first
pillar" and the inter-governmental "third pillar".
In the present report, we turn to the practical question of the
costs and benefits of the United Kingdom's opt-out from the Schengen
system. In particular, we examine the consequences of the United
Kingdom's opt-out for its future role in the development of "an
area of freedom, security and justice".
7. The enquiry was carried out by Sub-Committee
F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) whose members are
listed in Appendix 1. The Sub-Committee received the written and
oral evidence from the witnesses listed in Appendix 2, to whom
they express their thanks. The Specialist Adviser was Professor
Malcolm Anderson, formerly Professor of Politics and Director
of the International Social Sciences Institute at the University
STRUCTURE OF THIS REPORT
8. The remainder of this report is structured
as follows. In Part 2 we describe the main features of the Schengen
system, the United Kingdom's policy on frontier controls, and
our approach to this enquiry. In Part 3, we present the arguments
advanced by our witnesses for maintaining the status quo, or for
opting-in to all or part of the Schengen arrangements. Part 4
contains the opinion of the Committee.
1 Historically, nationals of a Member State had the
right to move freely within the territory of other Member States
for purposes of employment, for the pursuit of activities as self-employed
persons, and for the provision of services. Back
Protocol on the application of certain aspects of Article 7a of
the Treaty establishing the European Community to the United Kingdom
and Ireland. Back
Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Amsterdam
Protocol integrating the Schengen acquis into the framework
of the European Union. Back
This opt-out is stated in the Protocol integrating the Schengen
acquis within the European Union. Back
Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The
opt-in rights are, however, stated to be without prejudice to
the Protocol integrating the Schengen acquis. Back
31st Report, Session 1997-98. Back
An Annex to the Protocol integrating Schengen within the European
Union defines the Schengen acquis as the 1985 Schengen
Agreement, the 1990 Implementing Convention, the eight Accession
Protocols and Agreements, the decisions and declarations of the
Schengen Executive Committee and the acts of its subordinate bodies. Back