Schengen to be suspended for the ECB summit in Barcelona and 6,500 policemen to be deployed

The Spanish Government has taken this measure for the European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council that will be held in Barcelona from May 2nd to 4th. The cancellation of the Schengen Protocol comes after a request by the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs to prevent the arrival of violent protesters and guarantee security during the meeting. This precautionary measure will come into effect from April 28th to May 4th, both included. It will be combined with 6,500 police deployed on the streets of the capital of Catalonia. All these measures will be taken after an evaluation of the risks of trouble during the event.

CNA / Laura Quintana

April 23, 2012 10:48 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Schengen Protocol will temporarily be cancelled for the European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council in Barcelona, which will take place from May 2nd to 4th. The Spanish Government has taken the decision for security reasons, upon the request made by the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Felip Puig, in charge of security in Catalonia. Police reports pointed to the possible involvement of foreign nationals travelling to the city to take part in potential violent street protests. The suspension will come into effect at 00h00 of April 28th, and it will last until May 4th at 23h59. The Schengen Area was created in 1985 to guarantee the free movement of people within the European countries that ratified it, which today has 25 members. The protocol foresees its member states to ask the European Commission for a temporary suspension for extraordinary security reasons. In addition to border controls, 6,500 policemen will be deployed in the capital of Catalonia to guarantee the security of the ECB summit. The operation will be jointly coordinated by the Catalan and Spanish Governments.

From May 2nd to 4th everybody entering Spain will have to go through a border control. Furthermore, the measure will start to be implemented a few days in advance as a precautionary measure. From April 28th at earliest morning (12 am) to May 4th at 23h59, the Schengen Protocol will be suspended in Spain.

Initially requested by the Catalan Government

The Spanish Government has formally requested the European Commission this extraordinary measure to ensure no problems at the ECB meeting in Barcelona (from May 2nd to 4th). It made the request two weeks in advance, as the protocol foresees. The decision comes after the initial request by the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Felip Puig, in a letter sent on April 16th to the Spanish Government. Puig is in charge of security and policing in Catalonia, since most of the security powers are devolved. ACN had access to Puig’s letter, where he states that the objective of the request is to detect “anti-system violent” people who want to enter the country. This request is supported by police reports which have evaluated the risks.

6,500 policemen

Besides renewing border controls, 6,500 policemen will be gradually deployed on to the streets of Barcelona from April 23rd. According to the Catalan Ministry of Home Affairs, the device will mainly be formed by about 4,500 policemen from the Catalan Police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. In addition, 2,000 policemen from the Spanish police forces will collaborate with the effort. All combined they will patrol Barcelona and shield the Catalan capital. The exact distribution of tasks among police forces has not been announced yet. The operation will be jointly coordinated by the Catalan and the Spanish Governments.

The Schengen Protocol already plans the possibility of a “temporary reintroduction of border controls at internal borders”. It is foreseen because of a “serious threat to public policy or internal security” and it is meant to be suspended for a limited period “of no more than 30 days”.

Schengen questioned

This is not the first time that the Schengen Protocol has been the focus of attention. Last year, France and Italy requested more supervision of European borders. Last week, Germany and France asked for the restoration of border controls to control the arrival of illegal immigrants. In order to cancel Schengen it would be necessary for the European Commission to approve the changes. However, France and Germany are requesting that this decision be unilaterally made by each member state.