Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

EU passport-free zone blamed for wave of new migration

Just one month after the EU's borderless zone expanded to eight countries in central and eastern Europe, some EU capitals, particularly Berlin and Vienna, has started saying it has led to increased flows of migrants.

According to data from Germany's interior ministry, approximately 420 people were caught in the country's border area with Poland and the Czech Republic in the last three weeks.

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Many of those detained were reported to be asylum seekers from Chechnya, Russia's region seeking independence, who had applied for protection in the two EU states. Others were of Ukrainian and Vietnamese origin.

Austria faces a similar problem, as 340 Chechens have sought asylum in the country since the border controls were relaxed. Some 235 of these people came from Poland and were returned to the country, the interior ministry in Vienna said.

"Our fears have come true," Konrad Freiberg from the police trade union in Germany was cited as saying by the FT.

But the European Commission sees no link between enlargement of the EU's border-free zone and the movement of asylum seekers across what is now the 24-member Schengen club.

It is not the result of lack of security at new external borders, a commission spokesperson said.

He added that the EU's executive body will table a series of initiatives resulting in further harmonisation of the bloc's 27 national rules on how asylum seekers should be treated.

Brussels believes that a more harmonised approach could reduce secondary applications within the EU bloc, known in Brussels' jargon as "asylum shopping" or "refugees in orbit".

The overall number of asylum applications lodged within EU territory reached around 182,000 in 2006, with some countries' facilities facing enormous pressure.

The UK, France, Sweden and Germany each annually deal with around 20,000 requests, although Sweden is the only country where the granting of refugee status or other protection outnumbers the amount of those rejected.

At the bottom of the same scale are the three Baltic countries - Estonia with just five asylum applications in 2006, Latvia (10) and Lithuania (150).

Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill

Spain's socialist-led coalition has proposed changing how members of the country's top judicial body, the General Council of the Judiciary, are appointed - triggering a political and judicial storm about the independence, and drawing 'double standards' complaints from Poland.

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption efforts in some members sates - while it considers Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have good governance measures.

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