The objective of the European Union in the field of external border protection is to safeguard the freedom of movement within the Schengen area, an area without internal borders, and to ensure efficient monitoring of people who cross both external Schengen borders, as well as the EU’s external borders with countries that are not part of the Schengen area.
The Schengen Borders Code is the main instrument laying down common rules on external border crossings, entry requirements and duration of stays in the Schengen area, facilitating access for those who have a legitimate interest to enter EU territory. It also introduces increased checks on all people crossing the EU’s external borders (including EU nationals and others with the right to free movement), both on entry and on exit, in order to ensure that they do not pose a risk to public order, internal security or public health. Exit checks are also carried out on third-country nationals. The Schengen Borders Code also sets conditions on the temporary reintroduction of internal border checks in case of serious or immediate threat, or in exceptional circumstances.
The central pillar of the EU’s integrated border management is the European Border and Coast Guard, composed of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and the national authorities of Member States responsible for border management. The Agency carries out border controls, border surveillance and return activities and carries out those tasks in cooperation with Member States’ authorities and non-EU countries. It also performs ‘vulnerability assessments’ to detect and mitigate weaknesses in the EU border protection system.