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Local border traffic at external land borders

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Local border traffic at external land borders

This Regulation establishes a regime specifically applicable to local border traffic. It authorises the implementation of bilateral agreements offering advantages to border residents crossing the external borders of EU countries. It also introduces a special permit to be issued to the border residents, including those subject to a visa obligation.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 laying down rules on local border traffic at the external land borders of the Member States and amending the provisions of the Schengen Convention.

SUMMARY

Conditions of entry and stay

Local border traffic refers to the regular and frequent crossing for legitimate reasons of the European Union’s (EU) external border by nationals of neighbouring non-EU countries resident in the border areas with the EU.

These border residents may cross the external land border of an EU country provided that they are in possession of a permit delivered to facilitate such a crossing (and of a passport, if required in the bilateral agreement), they are not persons in respect of whom the Schengen Information System (SIS) has been alerted and they are not deemed to be a threat to public order.

These persons are authorised to stay in the border area for a maximum duration stipulated in the bilateral agreement between an EU country and the neighbouring non-EU country. The stay must not exceed three months.

Permits

Border residents are given a permit limited to the border area which is valid for between one and five years.

The fees will be equivalent to those payable for a short-term multiple-entry visa. However, EU countries may decide to reduce or even waive the fees.

Agreements on the implementation of the local border traffic regime

EU countries may conclude agreements on local border traffic with neighbouring non-EU countries. They may also maintain existing agreements provided they comply with this regulation. Furthermore, EU countries must ensure that non-EU countries apply the principle of reciprocity and grant comparable treatment to citizens of the EU wishing to travel to their border area.

These agreements can allow border residents to use:

  • border crossing points open only to border residents;
  • special lanes at ordinary border crossing points;
  • exceptional authorisations for border residents to cross the border outside authorised border crossing points and hours.

EU countries must enforce effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties in the event of misuse of the local border traffic regime. These may include cancelling or revoking the permit.

Inclusion of the Kaliningrad oblast (region) and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

This Regulation was amended by Regulation (EU) No 1342/2011 including the Kaliningrad oblast, the only enclave in the European Union, along with certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area for the purpose of the bilateral agreement between Poland and Russia. It applies to Iceland and Norway since it constitutes a development of the provisions of the Schengen acquis (i.e. the existing EU laws on the Schengen area - an area in Europe without internal borders in which citizens, many non-EU nationals and tourists can freely move without border checks), as well as to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It does not apply to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Context

This Regulation was drawn up in response to the plan for the management of external borders of the Member States of the European Union endorsed by the Seville European Council of 21 and 22 June 2002, which highlighted the need to adopt measures to regulate local border traffic.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006

19.1.2007

-

OJ L 405 of 30.12.2006

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 1342/2011

19.1.2012

-

OJ L 347 of 30.12.2011

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Report on the implementation and functioning of Regulation (EU) No 1342/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad oblast and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area and on the bilateral agreement concluded thereof between Poland and the Russian Federation. [ COM(2014) 74 of 19.2.2014 - not published in the Official Journal].

As the agreement has only been in force for a brief period, any assessment can only be limited. From the limited information available, it appears that the local border traffic regime in the case of Kaliningrad is functioning well and that there has been an increase in the number of border crossings by people living in the border area.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 9 February 2011 Second report on the implementation and functioning of the local border traffic regime set up by Regulation No 1931/2006 [ COM(2011) 47 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Four years after the creation of the local border traffic regime, four bilateral agreements have entered into force (Hungary/Ukraine, Slovakia/Ukraine, Poland/Ukraine and Romania/Moldova). Only the latter agreement is entirely compliant with Regulation No 1931/2006. Three other agreements were due to enter into force in 2011 (Poland/Belarus, Lithuania/Belarus and Norway/Russia) and several draft agreements have been the subject of consultations with the Commission. The Commission considers that the regime is functioning efficiently, but requests that the agreements which do not comply with the Regulation are amended. The Commission confirms the conclusions of its first report which noted stricter conditions in the agreements than those provided for by the Regulation. Information provided by the EU countries concerned shows that border traffic permit holders use the permits very frequently, for stays ranging from a few hours to two days. The main difficulties highlighted concern the definition of the border area, the requirement for travel medical insurance (not provided for by the Regulation), and the Kaliningrad region (a Russian enclave within the EU).

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 24 July 2009 on the implementation and functioning of the local border traffic regime introduced by Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down rules on local border traffic at the external land borders of the Member States [ COM(2009) 383 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Since the adoption of the above Regulation, only the following bilateral local border traffic agreements have entered into force: Hungary/Ukraine, Slovakia/Ukraine and Poland/Ukraine. A few other EU countries have consulted the Commission on the following agreements: Lithuania/Belarus, Lithuania/Russian Federation, Latvia/Russian Federation, Poland/Belarus, Bulgaria/Serbia, Bulgaria/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania/Ukraine. Only one bilateral agreement existed before the adoption of the Regulation: this involved the frontier between Slovenia and Croatia. At the time the report was drafted (2009), it wastoo early to evaluate the implementation and functioning of the local border traffic regime.

The EU countries that consulted the Commission applied the facilitation measures provided by the Regulation to a varying extent, yet never in full and mostly with additional restrictions.

Last updated: 15.06.2014

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