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The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council has confirmed at is meeting on 8 November the readiness of the Czech Republic and other 8 EU states to join the Schengen area. Ministers of the interior have approved a report stating that the process of evaluation before the lifting of controls at internal borders has been accomplished.

According to the approved text, "the Member States concerned have on the whole shown that they are sufficiently prepared to apply both the non-SIS-related provisions of the Schengen acquis as well as its SIS-related provisions in a satisfactory manner. On this basis, the preconditions have been fulfilled for taking the Decision referred to in Article 3(2) of the 2003 Act of Accession in December 2007 allowing the lifting of internal border controls at the land and sea borders as of 21 December 2007 and at air borders as of 30 March 2008".

From practical point of view, there are no reasons that could hinder taking of a formal decision enabling the enlargement of the Schengen area. Such a decision is to be taken by the EU Council after concluding the consultations with the European Parliament and is planned for the meeting on 6-7 December.

The approved Council conclusions follow conclusions which were approved by the ministers in December 2006 with regards to the evaluation of the non-SIS related issues; they indicated where additional measures were required and in which cases the necessary changes were to be reassessed during follow-up visits in 2007.

The current text means a conclusion of the whole Schengen evaluation of the preparedness for Schengen as it comprises both the results of the SIS-related evaluation and follow up visits as well as conclusions based on the additional written follow-up. As such, it presents a general overview of the readiness of new Member States to join Schengen with regards to both SIS-related and non-SIS related issues covering all aspects of the Schengen cooperation.

To download: The Council conclusions on completion of the evaluation process prior to the abolition of internal border controls.