Last Update: 13:47
The European Commission on Wednesday suggested that border controls within the Schengen zone should be extended for another three months as migration authorities are still working on a plan to manage the migrant crisis.
According to a Kathimerini newspaper report, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member Norway introduced border checks in 2015 to stem the extraordinary refugee and migrant influx. The controls were extended in November and are due to expire in mid-February.
“Significant progress has been made to lift internal border controls, but we need to solidify it further,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said. “This is why we recommend allowing member-states concerned to maintain temporary border controls for a further three months.”
The EC underlined the importance of “the steady delivery of results of the EU-Turkey Statement,” that was implemented on March 20, 2016. The deal curbed the inflow of asylum seekers from Turkey to Greek Aegean islands. At the moment over 62,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in Greece.
However, the EC is asking for “the full application of the Dublin rules in Greece [to be] gradually restored as of mid-March.”
The Dublin treaty stipulates that migrants must apply for asylum in the first EU member-state they enter. It also calls for migrants who have traveled further to be returned to the first EU country they entered, a practice that most countries suspended due to the inordinate pressure on Greece.
Since the vast majority of migrants who entered Europe through Greece sought asylum in other EU countries, the countries have the right to return them to Greece.