Back on 9th October I documented a non-Schengen compliant border control that took place on a train between St Jean de Maurienne and Modane – see the full details here. I put all that information into a full and official complaint to the European Commission, and today (about 2 weeks late) received a reply. I have redacted names and reference numbers from the letter below. Click the image to read it at full resolution.
The essence of the response from the Commission is what happened is not a border control, and does not act as the equivalent of a border check, hence what happened was not contrary to the Schengen borders code. I get a couple of lines right near the end saying they understand the frustration, but am told “there is not enough evidence” to suggest that the check was contrary to the borders code. They also state there will be no follow up or action taken by the European Commission.
So Schengen is a myth then? Or is there something else I can do now?
Thanks for sharing the response. It seems that you have to either find a Schengen country which does not have a requirement to ‘hold, carry and produce documents’ and see whether they exercise border control measures or spend 6 hours in the area observing whether the French police comply with the requirement mentioned in the letter.
On a more serious note, perhaps we should all be more active and report such cases to the Commission until they are forced to carry out an investigation.
Identity paper checks are routine actions by French police on mass-transit systems (trains, metro, airports …) or in suburbs.
Whether done near borders or well within national soil, this is not considered border checks but crime prevention activity (or more factually, “illegal immigration check”).
The fact that Britain doesn’t require its citizens to hold identity cards is what’s causing your confusion.
No offenses meant, but you are making mountains our of molehill on this issue.
Technically, you could bring an action in tort in French court against the French government, but I highly doubt that you would want to go through the trouble of doing that. You also wouldn’t have much chance of winning, because the Court has been quite generous towards the Member States lately. Cf. the Adil case and this speech by Commissioner Malmström in the Plenary of the EP: http://martinned.ideasoneurope.eu/2012/07/05/dutch-border-checks/
P.S. The Adil judgement is here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62012CJ0278:EN:HTML
Thanks for sharing this. I too made a trip across the Schengen area back in October, Germany – France – Switzerand – France – Italy but didn’t experience this border controls. I was quite scared actually because I lost my US passport in Sweden prior to my travel and what was left with me was my Philippine passport without a Schengen visa. But I have heard from other travelers that border controls do exist but these are random. I don’t think the Schengen countries will ever completely erradicate these border controls.