NEWS BRIEFS

MEPs push for debate on Schengen

THREE members of the European Parliament for the opposition Slovak SDKÚ party are pushing for a debate in the EU-wide legislature in November on problems connected with the extension of the Schengen border-free zone to new EU countries on schedule in late 2007.

Zita Pleštinská, Milan Gaľa and Peter Šťastný are the authors of a petition that needs the signatures of more than half of MEPs to force a debate in next month's session. The petition calls on "the European Commission to present full and transparent information" on the current state of inclusion of new countries to the EU's visa-free travel zone.

The Slovak MEPs are skeptical of gaining the necessary support, saying that MEPs from older EU countries have been instructed not to support the petition.

They say they also recognize that weaknesses in preparation for the 2007 deadline exist on the side of new countries, but argue that errors in the new SIS II computer security system designed to coordinate border security data from new members are also to blame.

"We still don't know exactly what went wrong," said MEP Gaľa.

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