Schengen Experts to Evaluate the Riga Airport

On Sunday September 8, the Schengen evaluation commission’s experts will commence their work at the Riga Airport; they will repeatedly assess the compliance of the air border of Latvia to the requirements of the Schengen acquis and Latvia"s readiness to open the internal borders.

The experts are going to inspect the border control procedures, staff knowledge, infrastructure and equipment of the Riga Airport and evaluate in presence controls of third-country citizens in two flights.  Furthermore, the experts are going to evaluate the work done by the airport’s border control post, police department, customs post, the Sanitary Border Inspection and airport’s administration as to the rectification of the failures established in the Schengen evaluation inspection in 2006.

As already announced, last year the first Schengen evaluation mission took place in Latvia; during it, the preparedness of the State Border Guard, the State Police, the Customs, the Data State Inspection, and the consular and diplomatic representation offices of the Republic of Latvia in Kiev and St. Petersburg  for the application of the Schengen acquis and the staff knowledge, mobility and technical capacity of   authorities were assessed in the spheres of air, sea and land borders, police cooperation, visas and data protection. Following the expert report, a repeated evaluation was required only at the Riga Airport.

Furthermore, Schengen Information System (SIS) experts are coming to visit Latvia in the end of September. To prepare for the visit, the Ministry of the Interior in the summer organised an imitation of the Schengen evaluation visit, with experts from the German SIRENE Bureau participating. They concluded that Latvia is on the right way in the preparation for the work with the SIS and has covered all the required fields.  The Schengen Information System, SISone4ALL, was implemented and commenced operation in Latvia on 1 September.

Preparation for the accession to the Schengen zone is one of the most important priorities of the Ministry of the Interior. Part of the measures required to implement the Schengen acquis had been fulfilled by Latvia when it accessed to the European Union on May 1, 2004. 

On 4 February 2005, the then Minister of the Interior of Latvia reported to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers of the EU that Latvia would be ready to commence the evaluation of all the spheres that are not connected with the Schengen Information System on May 1, 2006.

Latvia had fulfilled all the requirements in order to access, together with other new EU Member States, to the Schengen Agreement in 2007; therefore, the news that the implementation of the SIS II system is delayed and, consequently, the time of accession of the new Member States is postponed was upsetting.

However, in late 2006 the Portugal"s proposal to join the new Member States to the existing SIS I+, naming it SISone4ALL, within one year was supported and approved. This solution is an alternative option to SIS  II, as the delay in its development would make it impossible for the new Member States to access to the Schengen zone on the planned date.

It is expected that Latvia, together with other new Member States of the EU, could lift internal sea and land border controls as of 1 January 2008 and internal air border controls as of 29 March 2008.

 

 

Prepared by:

Laura Karnīte

PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Assistant Director, Head of the Press Centre

Phone 7219175

Mob. phone 29165007

laura.karnite@iem.gov.lv

 


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