Press Releases

6. 12. 2006 15:24

Enlargement of Schengen Is the Most Important Decision since the Czech Republic’s Accession to the EU

Yesterday was a historic breaking point in the Czech Republic’s position within the European Union.

The decision to enlarge the Schengen Area already on 31 December 2007 substantially equalises so-called new and old EU Member States. From that date, the citizens of the nine new Member States, including the Czech Republic, will be permitted to cross the borders of other Schengen members at any point and at any time without travel documents. In this respect at least, they will no longer be second-category EU citizens.

Lifting the internal frontiers in the EU brings into life the idea of European integration in its original shape: within the meaning of equality of rights, and not within the meaning of unification of obligations. Implementation of precisely this form of integration of the EU, which personifies the completion of liberalisation, full enforcement of the four fundamental freedoms in the EU and equalising the rights of all Member States, has been the fundament of the European policy of the Czech Republic’s Government.

From the very beginning, the Czech Republic has insisted that the enlargement of Schengen should be carried out by the original deadline, i.e. the end of 2007. At the time of appointment of the present Cabinet, however, we were facing an actual threat that due to technical complications in the implementation of the new Schengen Information System (SIS II), the date of the enlargement would be postponed until 2010, or even indefinitely.

The Czech Government has exerted maximum professional and diplomatic efforts to reverse these unfavourable developments. This is the first time since the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU in 2004 that we have succeeded in pushing through and defending our own important issue, and by patient negotiations achieving a change in the European Union’s attitude. This is a proof of the Czech Republic’s emancipation within the EU, and also of the correctness of the new Government’s policy, based on harmonisation of national interests with the interests of other Member States and with the fundamental values of the EU.

Three months after the installation of the new administration it is becoming obvious that the Czech Republic is no longer merely a passive player on the European playfield, but that we are capable of successfully enforcing justified interests of our citizens, finding allies, and becoming an active “play maker”. The result of this is clearly the strengthening of the European Union, which has once again taken another major step towards genuine unity.

We perceive this as an incentive to an equally active approach in other areas of the European policy, regardless of the government. Success in enlarging the Schengen Area is not the success of only the present Cabinet and of the Czech Republic, but primarily of the idea of European integration based on equal rights for all countries.

Mirek Topolánek
Prime Minister

Ivan Langer
Minister of the Interior

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