The Ministry is satisfied about the readiness of the EU to expand the Schengen area this year

The Ministry of Interior is satisfied about the statement made by Franco Frattini, the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, that the Schengen Agreement area could be expanded and border control on the land and sea borders with the new member states could be abolished in December of this year.
Joining the Schengen Agreement area has been one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Interior in the recent years, and Latvia has taken measures to achieve this for several years - by improving the legal and regulatory framework according to the Schengen acquis requirements, putting the infrastructure of the EU external border into order, improving the materially technical situation of law enforcement agencies and training employees.

„Joining the Schengen area and the subsequent abolishment of border control on the internal borders is just as important as it was joining the European Union in 2004” indicates Aivars Straume, State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior.

Latvia has fulfilled all the requirements to join the Schengen Agreement in 2007 together with other new member states of the European Union. Last year the first Schengen evaluation mission took place in Latvia, during which the readiness of the State Border Guard, State Police, Customs, Food and Veterinary Service, National Armed Forces and the Sea and Air forces to implement Schengen acquis was evaluated in the areas of air, sea and land borders, cooperation between law enforcement agencies and visa and data protection. The level of knowledge of personnel and the mobility and technical capabilities of agencies were also evaluated. The evaluation of the visit was overall positive and a repeated evaluation will take place only at the Riga Airport in September of this year.

At the moment Latvia is preparing for the Schengen evaluation mission for the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is planned in autumn. To verify the readiness of the responsible institutions, an imitation of the Schengen evaluation process, which was performed by experts from the German agency SIRENE, took place at the Ministry of Interior and its institutions in July. After the evaluation the experts concluded that Latvia is on the right path in preparing for work with SIS and covers all required areas.

While preparing for participation in the Schengen area, Latvia is successfully acquiring the funds of the Schengen financial programme (Schengen Facility). In total 311 agreements for 87, 2 million euro were signed during the framework of the programme, and more than 53 million euro have already been acquired. In compliance with the requirements of Schengen Facility, deliveries of products and services within the framework of the signed agreements must be made by September of this year, and all payments within the framework of the agreements – by the end of this year.

Prepared by:

Laura Karnīte
Head of the Press Centre of the
Press and Public Relations Department of the
Ministry of Interior
Phone: 7219176
Mobile phone: 29165007