Scottish Daily Mail
Crisis for EU’s open borders
Threat to passport-free travel as it emerges two killers posed as refugees
EUROPE’S open borders agreement was in crisis last night after it emerged two of the Paris terrorists entered the EU by posing as Syrian refugees.
Critics said it was time to review the so-called Schengen deal that allows passport-free travel between member states.
And there were calls for tougher measures to control the flow of refugees arriving from the Middle East.
But as terror experts warned that the open frontiers deal allowed automatic weapons to freely cross the continent, Brussels immediately rejected any suggestion that changes were needed to its response to the refugee crisis, or to the Schengen agreement.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said there was no link between open borders and Europe’s ‘generosity’ over refugees and the terror attack.
There was ‘no need to review the whole European refugee policy’, he told G20 leaders in Turkey, dismissing those with fears about migrants as having ‘basic reactions’.
The row comes after it emerged a Syrian passport found with one of the Paris gunmen had passed through the Greek island of Leros on October 3.
A second gunman is thought to have passed through the island two months earlier. On Saturday, in the wake of the attacks in the French capital, Poland signalled it would withdraw from the EU-wide quota system to accept refu gees arriving on the continent. Konrad Szymanski, Poland’s incoming European affairs minister, said the deal was not politically possible and implementation was ‘very hard to imagine today’.
At the same time, Germany’s Angela Merkel came under pressure from her own allies to reverse her ‘open door’ refugee policy.
Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, the leader of Merkel’s sister party, the Christian Social Union, called for better protection of Germany’s frontiers along with for stricter controls at Europe’s external borders.
Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder said: ‘The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can’t continue just like that. Paris changes everything.’ He said Mrs Merkel should acknowledged ‘that the opening of the border for an unlimited period of time was a mistake.’
The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service also sounded the alarm, calling for ‘orderly procedures’ regarding the handling of thousands of refugees a day – and warned extremists could exploit migrant chaos.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, the former Home Office counter terrorism reviewer, said Paris was ‘the end’ of Schengen. It’s now unrealistic.’
In the wake of the migrant crisis, a string of countries have imposed border controls to prevent the mass movement of people across the continent, including Sweden, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria. France closed its borders in the wake of the Paris attack, and Belgium closed its border with France.
Lord Carlile added: ‘The announcement by the President of France that they were closing the borders is totally contrary to Schengen but it’s a sound practical measure. The bridge between Malmo and Copenhagen has been closed by the Swedes. The Slovenian border, the Hungarian border, the Austrians have closed some of their borders.
‘So it’s finished. There’s no way there’s going to be a resumption of completely free movement.
‘The lack of border controls facilitates the moving of lethal weapons like Kalashnikovs. If they get in through Austria, Hungary, or Bulgaria, through a porous border, they can go anywhere except the United Kingdom [which is not a Schengen member].’
But Mr Juncker said: ‘The one who is responsible for the attacks in Paris cannot be put on an equal footing with real refugees, with asylum seekers and with displaced people.’
‘I would like to invite those in Europe who are trying to change the migration agenda we have adopted – I would like to invite them to be serious about this and not to give in to these basic reactions. I don’t like it.’
Home Secretary Theresa May said all refugees would be screened by the United Nations refugee agency and then face further checks by the UK to ensure no fighters get through.
‘First of all, we are taking people of course directly from camps,’ she said. ‘We are working with UNHCR [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees].
‘UNHCR take biometrics, they look at documents, they interview people. They do their own process of screening against issues like war crimes and serious criminality. Then there is a further check that is done once people are referred to the UK. The Home Office then undertakes further checks, further biometrics are taken.
‘We are ensuring that we are checking people who are coming into the UK.’
‘Paris changes everything’