Wednesday

22nd Sep 2021

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos

  • People entering Slovenia from Croatia had to endure long delays at the border as in this image from 2012. (Photo: dmytrok)

The European Commission is scrambling experts from member states to meet in Brussels following traffic chaos and huge traveller delays over new security rules at the external borders.

"When it comes to lengthy queues we are in contact with several member states and we are going to have an expert meeting this week to address these issues," an EU commission spokesperson told reporters on Monday (10 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The rules are part of a larger anti-terror effort after EU nationals that had fought alongside militant extremists in Syria then returned to launch attacks in Paris.

National authorities are required as of last week to ID check, using security databases, every EU citizen that leaves or enters the outer fringes of the Schengen area of 26 EU states.

The task is large. In 2015, more than 200 million border crossings were registered at the external borders of the Schengen area.

Within hours of its launch, Slovenia suspended the checks, due to the massive traffic jams at its border with non-Schengen EU member state Croatia.

Huge delays were also reported at airports in Greece and Spain.

The Greek police announced they would suspend the systematic ID checks of EU citizens for six months.

Outdated ID cards of Greek nationals meant border authorities had to manually enter data, according to Greek media news outlet Kathimerini.

The rules allow for a six-month derogation at airports but not at land and sea borders, posing questions on why people had to endure long waits at the border between Croatia and Slovenia.

The EU commission on Monday said member states "did indeed have time to prepare for the entry into force of these new rules".

The proposal for systematic checks was first announced in December 2015 and then adopted by EU countries early last month.

The commission says authorities are allowed to derogate from the checks at land and sea borders, but must first provide "a thorough risk assessment" to make sure the overall level of security is not weakened.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is in talks with the Croatian authorities over the affair.

Other EU commission officials are also talking to the Slovenians.

Schengen information System

Broader concerns remain over some of the security databases used during the latest checks.

Among those is the EU-wide Schengen Information System (SIS) that issues alerts to border authorities on everything from missing persons to wanted criminals.

Authorities can also issue alerts on foreign fighters, although that data has not always been entered into the system.

Proposals, which are yet to be adopted, have since been floated to make it mandatory.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU's anti-terror coordinator, last year said only five EU states entered information on foreign fighters in Europol's database, while most others enter alerts in SIS.

He noted that the information on the homegrown returning terrorists is also often incomplete.

The EU commission had also downplayed the threat of returning fighters.

EU commissioner for security Julian King last November described it as a speculation that "is sometimes exaggerated."

This article was corrected on Wednesday (12 April) at 13.54 to state that 5 EU states enter information into a Europol database, not SIS.

EU starts border checks on everyone

Border authorities will be required to verify the identities of EU nationals whenever leaving or entering the European Union.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. French MEPs lead bogus EU monitoring of Russia vote
  2. Europeans think new 'Cold War' is here - but not for them
  3. Spain wants energy price discussion at next EU summit
  4. Trust in Dutch government drops, but not for Rutte
  5. Long ago, there was another Angela Merkel
  6. The first anniversary of the Abraham Accords
  7. First refugee deaths confirmed on Belarus-EU border
  8. EU kept in dark on ex-commissioner's new lobby job

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us