Thursday, June 13, 2024

Portugal Could Be Suspended From Schengen? What We Know

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Portugal’s Schengen Status at Risk: Visa Delays Compound Border Control Concerns

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Portugal is currently grappling with a looming threat- potential suspension from the Schengen Area. The threat stems from the country’s delay in implementing the new border control systems mandated by the European Union (EU). However, despite the direness, little attention is being given to the issue amid domestic politics.

The main focus is the installation of a new frontier control system. As per the mandate, it needs to be fully operational and validated by July. In case the deadline is not met, Portugal risks being suspended from the Schengen Zone. Such a move could have drastic consequences, particularly on the country’s tourism sector.

Minister of the Presidency António Leitão Amaro has openly acknowledged the issue at hand. He recognized the potential ramifications for Portuguese tourism should suspension take place. He attributed the delay to the previous administration, led by António Costa. He pointed out that despite a budget of €25 million being sanctioned in March, they failed to initiate the tender process for acquiring the necessary equipment.

Currently, efforts are underway to expedite the procurement process by using direct contracts, However, such a move has drawn criticism, citing perceived favoritism and a lack of efficiency. Regardless, the July deadline is looming and authorities are working to overcome bureaucratic hurdles, including evaluation by the Accounts Court.

The European Union is closely monitoring Portugal’s progress. This can be seen in the recent video conference between Paulo Viseu Pinheiro, head of the country’s internal security system (SSI), and the EU’s Director-General of Internal Affairs. However, despite the ongoing challenges, there is a cautious sense of optimism that Portugal will be ready by October- provided they overcome the significant bureaucratic and financial hurdles.

This delay in establishing the border control system is part of a broader delay in executing the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR)- which is being funded by the European Commission. So far, Portugal’s main challenges in maintaining its Schengen membership are the procurement and bureaucratic processes.

The deadline is fast approaching, and Portugal is under intense scrutiny. In order to prevent suspension from the Schengen Area, Portugal will have to race against time so as to comply with the EU regulations. The outcome could have an impact on the nation’s economy, security and even its global standing.

By Jenel Treza Albuquerque

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