September 27, 2017

Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos delivered a daunting message to leaders in the bloc’s national capitals, telling them: “If Schengen dies, I’m afraid it will be the beginning of the end of Europe”.
He made the remarks after the EU Commission put forward proposals that will limit member states’ ability to impose extra security checks at their border amid what he termed “abuse” of the current rules.
Currently France, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU Norway all have temporary border controls in place at their frontiers, the legal mandates for which are all due to expire in November.
Brussels has repeatedly insisted that it wants to see a return to the Schengen zone as it was before the migrant crisis, and today tabled new proposals that would restrict such checks in future.

Schengen dies, EU dies Brussels faces tussle with Merkel and Macron over border controls

Under eurocrats’ plans countries would be allowed to apply to use temporary border controls for a year, with a possible two year extension, in the event of a “threat to their public policy or internal security”.
However the legal basis on which the current checks are being applied - an unprecedented inflow of migrants from the Eastern Mediterranean in 2015 - would be written out of the rulebooks.
The Commission’s plans are far more restrictive than those put forward by five leading member states, spearheaded by France and Germany, who want to be able to impose controls for up to four years on security grounds.
They will now be sent on to the EU Council of ministers where they are likely to meet with some resistance, especially in light of the shock performance by Alternative for Germany in Sunday’s federal election.

Schengen dies, EU dies Brussels faces tussle with Merkel and Macron over border controls

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels today, Mr Avramopoulos said: “If all theses rumours that Schengen is at stake are justified and Schengen dies, I’m afraid it will be the beginning of the end of Europe.
“No internal border controls in relation with flows from the Eastern Mediterranean will be possible after November. All member states keep the possibility to introduce internal border controls for other threats to their public policy or internal security.
“This approach allows us to prevent abuses and make sure everyone plays by the rules. All member states are reminded that the introduction of temporary border controls must remain an exceptional measure of last resort.”
The Greek official said he expected member states to “react positively” to the Commission’s proposals and said they were designed to address the “real fears” national politicians have on migration and security.
Elsewhere in his new Schengen action plan Mr Avramopoulos also advocated the opening up of more routes for legal migration, now that numbers of irregular arrivals have dropped off, saying it was Europe’s duty to provide refuge.
He said: “Europe is an ageing continent and we will need skills from abroad. It’s time for the EU to be smarter, selective and productive when it comes to legal migration.”

And he also echoed Jean-Claude Juncker’s call for Romania and Bulgaria to be drafted into the Schengen area - a decision that lies with the member states - saying it would boost the battle against cross-border crime.
He told reporters: “ A stronger Schengen also means a unified Schengen. We call on the Council to finally decide for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen family. It is not only politically fair it is also needed from a security point of view.”
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