EU migration commissioner plays down threat of Schengen exit


European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Friday that there is no possibility of any country being forced out of the Schengen area and declared himself confident that the Greek government would soon make the improvements needed to satisfy Brussels.

“The exit of a country from the Schengen zone has not been requested, nor discussed,” said Avramopoulos at a gala dinner in Athens organized by the Economist.

“The Schengen Evaluation Report carried out in November found a series of shortcomings that have to be addressed,” he added, referring to the results of inspections on two islands that concluded Greece was not keeping to its commitments as a member of the passport-free area. “The Greek authorities are taking the necessary action.”

The Commission has given Athens three months to rectify the failures in the screening of migrants and refugees.

Earlier on Friday, Alternate Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said he believes there is a real possibility of Greece being excluded from Schengen.

Speaking to Kathimerini, Mouzalas stressed again the need for the flow of migrants from Turkey to be stemmed and for the EU’s refugee relocation scheme to improve.

The Infrastructure Ministry on Friday ordered 1,150 25-square meter prefabricated huts to house refugees and migrants at various points around the country. The structures will cost 14.1 million euros. Another 1.5 million will be spent on transporting them.