Friday, February 12, 2016

EU is poised to restrict free travel within Schengen Area

EU is poised to restrict free travel within Schengen Area. (DS).

BRUSSELS: European Union countries are poised to restrict passport-free travel by invoking an emergency rule to impose controls at several borders for two more years because of the migration crisis, according to EU documents seen by The Associated Press.

The switch will reverse a decades-old trend of expanding passport-free travel in Europe.

The documents show that EU policy makers are preparing to make unprecedented use of an emergency provision by declaring that Greece is failing to sufficiently protect it border. Some 2,000 people are still arriving daily on Greek islands in smugglers' boats from Turkey, most of them keen to move deeper into Europe to wealthier countries like Germany and Sweden.

In Brussels on Friday, EU nations acknowledged that the overall functioning of Schengen "is at serious risk" and said Greece must make further efforts to deal with the migrant crisis at its source.

With a sense of compromise, Friday's EU statement acknowledged the vast challenge facing Greece, saying "the very large number of arrivals is such that the external border controls of any member state would be placed under severe pressure."

So far, six Schengen members have imposed border checks, and many of those would have to dismantle them starting in mid-May under Schengen rules. Germany has until May 13, and has made clear that it does not want to relinquish the checks. The other countries are France, Austria, Denmark, and Norway. Read the full story here.

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