Review of the Schengen acquis and strengthening the judiciary
The Schengen Agreement aimed at creating a free movement area across the territories of the contracting partner countries, must at the same time maintain a high level of security for their citizens. To contribute to these objectives, Norway Grant amounting to €122 million has been committed to focus on strengthening the police, border guards, customs units, upgrading of penal systems, including prison facilities and rehabilitation programmes in the new EU Member States.
Key overall findings
• The support was found to be an important contribution to the strengthening of general law enforcement and the fight against organised crime.
• The support has been vital in ensuring that new Schengen countries comply with the requirements. Valuable partnerships have been established between law enforcement authorities in Norway and the beneficiary states.
• The report calls for increased strategic coherence in the utilisation of the support, and notes that there should have been greater emphasis on improving performance in specific thematic areas rather than on equipment and infrastructure investments in specific institutions.
• The report notes that the project designs focus too much on activities and outputs, and too little on results and impacts.
• Before making major investments, it is important to assess whether or not there are pending or unresolved overarching strategic issues that should be addressed first.
• Beneficiary states should be requested to develop operational programmes for the use of future EEA and Norway Grants support. These should be subject to independent ex-ante evaluation to assess relevance and strategic coherence.
• The donors are recommended to identify several clear main priorities to facilitate development of clear national priority themes, and, ultimately, the development of projects with clear and relevant objectives.
• National priorities should be defined in terms of desired system performance improvements, rather than in terms of strengthening specific institutions. Project objectives should correlate clearly to specific priority themes.