NEWS

EU weighs internal border checks to shut Greek refugee route

eu-weighs-internal-border-checks-to-shut-greek-refugee-route

European Union governments will consider suspending some passport-free internal travel for as long as two years to prevent refugees who make it to Greece from moving on to western Europe, a draft document showed.

The proposal, designed to pressure Greece into allowing EU policing of its Aegean Sea border with Turkey, will be weighed by home affairs ministers of the 28 EU countries at a meeting in Brussels on Friday.

Legal provisions will be discussed “that one or more member states decide to reintroduce border control at all or at specific parts of their internal borders,” according to the document, which was published by the Statewatch.org civil liberties website.

Greece, the main EU entry point for Middle Eastern refugees, has resisted outsourcing its border management to an EU-flagged force and has been accused by countries such as Hungary of opening the gates to migrants.

‘Serious deficiencies’

Laws on the Schengen system of passport-free travel between 22 EU countries and four outside the bloc were revised in 2013 to enable the suspension of a country for up to two years in case of “serious deficiencies” in external border management.

Friday’s meeting may lead to an assessment of Greece’s border controls. If found negligent, Greece would be given three months to tighten its controls or face a suspension.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the extreme scenario of suspension isn’t on the agenda. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he added that “there are a certain number of improvements that need to be done in Greece’s external frontiers.”

[Bloomberg]