Scottish Daily Mail

Cri­sis for EU’s open bor­ders

Threat to pass­port-free travel as it emerges two killers posed as refugees

- By Jack Doyle Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

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’

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