Tuesday

14th Aug 2018

Eastern EU leaders to urge Balkan border clamp down

A handful of eastern EU states are seeking to ramp up border controls in the Balkans to stem migration inflows from Greece.

The move, set to be discussed on Monday (15 February) in Prague by the so-called Visegrad Four, is likely to provoke German opposition.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Composed of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, the Visegrad group wants to prevent refugees and migrants from taking the Western Balkan route towards mainland EU.

German authorities have said the planned border blockades would put Greece under greater pressure.

The vast majority of people leaving Turkey to seek international protection land on Greek Aegean islands.

Most then attempt to cross into Macedonia before heading further north to seek asylum in Germany or Austria.

But Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka told Reuters on Sunday that EU agreements with Turkey to better manage and minimise the flows have yet to deliver results.

"The Visegrad Four (V4) realises how important it is to focus on the west Balkan route and show solidarity with the west Balkan countries and help them with protection of their borders," he said.

Both Macedonia and Bulgaria have been invited to attend the V4 meeting in Prague with Hungary lobbying to get Bulgaria admitted into the passport-free Schengen zone.

Greece, for its part, said it tried to manage the flows and provide border security.

“We made mistakes, we were confused, we didn’t know how to work with this new phenomenon; we had delays. But if someone wants xenophobia to prevail and the lack of reason, one has to find a scapegoat and for some people, it is Greece,” said Greece's minister in charge of migration policy Yiannis Mouzalas, reports ANA-MPA news agency.

The EU last week demanded Greece sort out its border and migration management methods at the risk of extending internal border controls in the Schengen zone to two years.

Slovenia's PM Miro Cerar had also announced in January broader plans to bolster the Macedonian border with Greece.

"All European countries should provide Macedonia with the maximum assistance, we should deploy police officers, we should provide equipment," he had said in January.

Now Ljubljana announced on Sunday it would impose a limit on the number of asylum seekers and refugees allowed to enter Austria.

Fears are mounting that bottlenecks could appear along the route once Austria imposes a migration cap.

Vienna had earlier said it would accept only 37,500 asylum claims this year, down from around 90,000 in 2015. It also wants to deport a minimum of 12,500 people.

EU still not clear on where to put rescued migrants

The mandate for Operation Sophia, the EU's naval mission in the Mediterranean sea, ends in December. Demands to change it, including new rules on disembarkation, are set to be agreed within the next few weeks.

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission says it is ready to boost spending in Morocco when it comes to stop migrant hopefuls from reaching Spain by boat. The money follows demands for help from Madrid as irregular arrival numbers spike in Spain.

EU Commission: Libya unfit for migrant disembarkation

The European Commission declined to comment on an Italian boat that reportedly returned rescued migrants at sea back to Libya - but instead said the country is too dangerous to be considered as a place safe enough for disembarkation.

News in Brief

  1. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  2. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  3. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  4. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  5. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  6. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions
  7. Masked youths set dozens of cars alight in Sweden
  8. Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission says it is ready to boost spending in Morocco when it comes to stop migrant hopefuls from reaching Spain by boat. The money follows demands for help from Madrid as irregular arrival numbers spike in Spain.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  2. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  3. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  4. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia
  5. 14 lobbyist meetings with Oettinger and Canete went unminuted
  6. UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain
  7. Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation
  8. Nordic and Baltic farmers urgently need EU support

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us