provides independent impartial information, from leading academics, on the UK’s relations with the EU. The ITV News series 'Finding the Facts' is based on the initiative’s work, together with fact check organisation , around claims made by both the Leave and Remain campaigns in the upcoming EU referendum.
The Leave Claim:
"The Schengen system forbids countries from carrying out systematic checks on anyone with an EU passport from entering the EU. This makes it much easier for jihadists to enter from the Middle East… outside the EU, we will continue to co-operate with our European partners to fight terrorism and organised crime."
The Remain Claim:
"In today’s world, many of the threats to Britain's security are global in nature - like the aggression of Russia, terrorism and cross-border crime. Being in Europe, working with our closest neighbours and partners to tackle these threats, makes Britain safer."
The Schengen Area
The EU’s member countries, including the UK, collectively control the EU’s external borders through their own management of their national borders.
Controls at the UK border
The British government retains full control over its own border controls. Travellers who hold EU passports can’t cross the UK border without having their passport or identity checked, and the same applies for travellers from non-EU countries.
The benefit of holding an EU passport, or being the citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein) or Switzerland, is that you travel through a at UK border controls. This normally results in a swifter identity check.
Non-EU citizens need to conform to all the UK’s border and immigration checks, even if they’re travelling from the EU, and are checked in a separate channel from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Citizens from outside the EU also face different visa, or visa waiver, requirements depending on the purpose of the visit and its duration.
There’s no difference here if the person is travelling from a Schengen or a non-Schengen country.
What this means for terrorism
Terrorism, just like many other crimes and other threats to countries' security, operates across borders.
In recent years, there’s also been more focus in the UK on 'home-grown' terrorism, as the and have said. The government has been developing to counter the development of extremist beliefs among UK citizens identified as vulnerable to radicalisation.
According to UK in a Changing Europe Fellow Richard Whitman, collective information sharing has evolved on criminal justice issues between the EU’s member countries to help them apprehend criminals, including sex offenders, people traffickers and terrorists, by unifying the procedures for and speeding up extradition and distributing security related information among EU members.
For example, the UK’s National Crime Agency 219 EAWs for suspects in other EU countries in 2013, and 228 in 2014. In return the National Crime Agency received 5,522 EAWs for requests in 2013, and 13,460 in 2014.
If the UK decides to leave the EU it might lose direct access to some these arrangements (such as the which doesn’t currently apply to non-EU member countries). That said, other non-EU member states, such as Norway, in the SIS without being members of the EU and have negotiated to the EAW.
Outside the EU, the UK would be free to decide on which issues and with which countries it would wish to pursue such cooperation. That isn’t much different to the situation now, according to Professor Whitman. The UK also already collaborates with other countries outside the EU, such as the US, on these issues on a one-to-one basis.