EU na­tions to pro­long bor­der checks

Com­mis­sion wants ‘full ap­pli­ca­tion’ of rules re­turn­ing mi­grants to Greece from March

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As Greek au­thor­i­ties strug­gle to host more than 60,000 mi­grants stranded in the coun­try, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion yes­ter­day pro­posed the pro­lon­ga­tion of bor­der con­trols in the pass­port-free Schen­gen area for an­other three months as the bloc is still work­ing on steps to deal with the mi­grant cri­sis.

Aus­tria, Ger­many, Den­mark, Swe­den and non-EU coun­try Nor­way in­tro­duced the checks in 2015 as an un- prece­dented wave of refugees streamed into Europe; the checks were ex­tended last Novem­ber and are due to ex­pire in mid-Fe­bru­ary.

“Sig­nif­i­cant progress has been made to lift in­ter­nal bor­der con­trols, but we need to so­lid­ify it fur­ther,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent Frans Tim­mer­mans said. “This is why we rec­om­mend al­low­ing mem­ber-states con­cerned to main­tain tem­po­rary bor­der con­trols for a fur­ther three months.”

Mi­gra­tion Com­mis­sioner Dim­itris Avramopou­los in­sisted that the Schen­gen area would get back to nor­mal. “These con­trols can­not go on for ever and they will not go on for ever,” he told re­porters in Brussels, adding that the ex­ten­sion was a “last re­sort.”

In a state­ment mean­while, the EC un­der­lined the im­por­tance of “the steady de­liv­ery of re­sults of the EUTurkey State­ment,” re­fer­ring to a deal be­tween Ankara and Brussels to curb hu­man smug­gling, and called for “the full ap­pli­ca­tion of the Dublin rules in Greece [to be] grad­u­ally re­stored as of mid-March.” The Dublin reg­u­la­tion stip­u­lates that mi­grants must ap­ply for asy­lum in the first EU mem­ber­state they en­ter, usu­ally Greece. It also fore­sees that mi­grants who have trav­eled fur­ther be re­turned to the first EU coun­try they en­tered, a prac­tice that most coun­tries sus­pended due to the in­or­di­nate pres­sure on Greece.

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