The Schengen area, which became effective in 1995, ensures that community citizens are afforded freedom of movement between Member States. The area creates one external border for immigration checks into the area using harmonized rules.  Internal border checks have been abolished in these areas.

Earlier this year, conflict arose when Italy gave travel papers and residence permits to Tunisian migrants. As a result, France placed police on the shared border with Italy and began to perform checks.  This created a debate about freedom of movement, and whether the border checks were in conflict with the goal of the Schengen area.

In response to the controversy, members of the European Commission will discuss a proposal on Friday, September 16, 2011 which will provide authorization for Member States to police borders for five days during emergencies only. It would also provide authorization for the European Commission to remove police borders after emergency action taken by Member States. Advocates of the proposal argue it would protect freedom of movement principles by restricting visceral national reactions and providing for a more measured and collective response.

Original members of the European community France and Germany, along with a newer member, Spain, issued a statement in opposition to the proposal. The concern raised in the  statement focuses on national sovereignty with respect to national security. The statement advocated the position that national security decisions should be localized with the Member States and their governmental processes.

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