• Migrant crisis: EU threatens Greece over border controls

Greece has "seriously neglected" its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone, the European Commission says in a draft report.
 
The assessment found failures to register, check and fingerprint migrants arriving in November, reports "BBC".
Greece is now likely to be given three months to rectify the situation.
 
If it does not improve, the EU may recommend other Schengen states to reintroduce temporary border controls.
The migrant crisis has put the future of the Schengen agreement at risk.
 
Several EU states, including Austria and Hungary, have already introduced temporary border controls to reduce the number of arrivals.
 
Growing pressure
 
More than 850,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece last year.
 
A further 44,000 have reached the Greek islands since the start of 2016, mostly arriving on Lesbos, Samos and Chios from the Turkish mainland.
 
There is growing pressure on Athens to deal with the flow of migrants, most of whom go on to travel through Europe to countries such as Germany and Sweden.
 
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told a news conference in Brussels that the "draft report concludes that Greece seriously neglected its obligations" under the Schengen agreement.
 
He said there were "serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities".
 
Spot checks by EU inspectors in November found Greece was failing to register arrivals properly, to fingerprint everyone, to see whether identity documents were genuine, and to check people against Interpol and other databases.
 
In a statement, EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos conceded that Greece had "started undertaking efforts towards rectifying and complying with the Schengen rules" since then.
 
However, "substantial improvements" were needed.
 
Serious warning
 
The report must be approved by other Schengen members before a three-month deadline can be imposed.
 
But this is a serious warning to Greece to improve things, says the BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Brussels.
 
Otherwise, border checks to limit the movement of migrants within Europe may be instituted.
 
On Monday, several EU states that have already introduced temporary border controls said they planned to prolong the restrictions for up to two years.
 
Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code allows states to do this "in exceptional circumstances".
 
The announcement came after a meeting of EU interior ministers in Amsterdam.
 
Before the meeting, Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner warned that Greece might be excluded from the Schengen zone if it failed to put more resources into curbing the migrant influx.
 
Interviewed by Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper, she said that "if the Athens government doesn't in the end do more to protect the [EU] external borders, then we'll have to openly discuss a temporary exclusion of Greece from the Schengen zone".

27.01.2016 19:23
Category Politics