Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

Greece sends new Schengen border plans to Brussels

  • Greece had two weeks to come up with detailed border protection plans (Photo: Vadim Ghirda)

Greece has sent additional information to the European Commission on Tuesday (26 April) on how it plans to protect the EU’s external borders.

The EU executive will now examine if Greece’s plans are adequate and will come forward with a report before 12 May.

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If the commission finds that deficiencies at the EU’s external frontiers still remain, it could propose to allow member states to prolong temporary border checks within the passport-free Schengen area at least until mid-November.

Eight countries in the 26-member Schengen zone have introduced border checks since last September, including Austria and Germany, to stem the flow of migrants across Europe.

Under current rules, such border checks could only be installed temporarily, and cannot be extended beyond 12 May, unless the commission finds that the Schengen zone is at risk because of a country’s failure to protect the external borders of the passport-free area.

The flow of migrants to Europe has reduced significantly with the closure of the Western Balkan migration route towards Germany and because of people being returned from Greece under the EU-Turkey deal agreed in March.

But the pressure remains on Greece to deliver on border control.

It is unlikely that countries, particularly Austria, will lift controls in the coming months.

Austria is planning to introduce checks at its eastern border with Hungary next Monday (2 May) and to reinstall border checks at its frontier with Italy by the end of May, for fear of a new wave of migrants.

The EU commission has earlier said it was “very concerned” about Austria’s plans, and it is still assessing the measures.

In an earlier assessment report on Greece's border plans two weeks ago, the commission asked for several clarifications and details on timelines, costs and which authorities are responsible.

It gave Greece two weeks to fill in the blanks.

The EU executive asked Greece to clarify how it would improve its coastal surveillance, and noted shortcomings in checking migrants’ fingerprints against EU security databases. It would also like to see Greece patrolling its northern border with Macedonia with the help of Frontex, the EU’s border agency.

In case the commission will propose to continue the border checks within the Schengen area, it will be up to the member states to decide.

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