Over the last few years, the EU’s discourse concerning border controls has presented a paradox – on the one hand, the EU promotes good neighbourly relations, while on the other hand it emphasises the need to strictly implement the Schengen acquis on border controls and visa regimes. The main underlying obstacle to a good and open partnership between the EU and the candidate states, and in turn between the enlarged EU and its neighbours, is a lack of trust towards the EU’s neighbours. One major challenge now for neighbours such as Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus is how to convince the EU that they can be good partners in fulfilling the objectives of Schengen and protecting the EU’s interest with respect to who comes in and out of its external borders.
The two main questions on which this working paper is centred are:
· To what extent can there be flexibility in implementing Schengen rules to prevent marginalising the new EU neighbours as a result of fears about ‘threats’ moving westwards across borders?
· What can the EU neighbours do in the short, medium and long term to promote trust and to one day hope to come off the Schengen ‘negative list’ with respect to freedom of movement?