The EU will rush through proposals for major changes to the rules of the passport-free Schengen zone by the end of the year to boost security following the Paris attacks, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Friday.
“The European Commission has agreed to present, by the end of the year, a plan to reform the Schengen border code to allow systematic and obligatory checks at all external borders for all travellers, including those who benefit from free movement,” he said after an emergency meeting with his EU counterparts.
“It’s a crucial change,” he added.
The interior ministers also agreed to temporarily tighten checks at Schengen’s external borders in the meantime.
The Paris attacks in which 130 people died have raised troubling questions about border security in the Schengen zone, where citizens of 22 EU countries, plus non-EU Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein enjoy passport-free travel.
Schengen has come under scrutiny following the revelations that some of the Paris attackers came from Belgium, and that alleged ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud may have come back from fighting with IS in Syria to take part before his death in a police raid on Wednesday.
EU officials said travellers will now not only have their passports examined but have their personal information checked with databases.