Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-091"

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"Mr President, the extension of the Schengen area has removed border controls in most of the EU and made day-to-day travel within those borders quicker and easier for our citizens. It also means, however, that non-EU citizens entering the Schengen area are effectively only checked once, at the external border. While our citizens often equate illegal immigration with dramatic scenes of unseaworthy and overcrowded vessels breaching our maritime borders, or container-loads of unfortunates – victims of human trafficking – crossing land borders, the reality is much more complex. About 50% of illegal immigrants enter the EU legally, but fail to leave our territory on expiry of their visas. Secondly, incidents of falsified documents are widespread, especially at airports. In order to reduce the number of overstayers, as well as to decrease the risk of granting access to persons with falsified documents, a harmonised and secure system for checking visa validity and taking fingerprints will apply in the Schengen area. However, as all our citizens who travel are well aware, increased security leads to increased inconvenience and waiting times at borders for bona fide travellers. Therefore a degree of pragmatism is also necessary. If there is deemed to be no risk related to internal security and illegal immigration, and traffic at a border is of such intensity that waiting times become excessive, then the need to take fingerprints may be waived. This more flexible system may operate for a maximum of three years, after which an evaluation of its effectiveness will take place. While we aim to make Europe secure, we need at the same time to be welcoming to business travellers and tourists alike. I believe that the proposed visa information system has struck the right balance between those two objectives."@en1

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