EU Interior Ministers to Discuss Stricter Border Controls at JHA Council
The interior ministers of the EU member states are convening at an informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) council in Amsterdam on Monday and Tuesday.
Among the topics of discussion will be migration, border control, fight against terrorism and cyber security.
The informal meeting comes amid the recent moves of Germany and Austria to tighten their border checks, with German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere announcing indefinite controls last week.
One of the measures to be discussed is whether to extend border controls for two years, with a temporary exclusion of Greece from the Schengen Area also expected to be among the topics of the discussion.
EU law limits internal border checks to six months but they can be extended to two years if Greece proves incapable of guarding its external borders.
Heading to the informal meeting in the Dutch capital, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said that a failure to secure the Greek-Turkish border could lead to the Schengen border moving to central Europe, EUobserver informs.
A similar proposal for temporary exclusion of Greece from the Schengen Area had been expressed by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico last year.
However Luxembourg’s Interior Minister Etienne Schneider expressed disagreement with such a move, insisting that there is a need to preserve Schengen.
More than 800 000 refugees arrived in Greece during 2015, with Greek authorities proving incapable to patrol the country's many islands, where thousands of people continue to disembark from Turkey on a daily basis.
Despite calls for help by EU states, Greece has had to deal alone with the mass numbers of refugees coming from Turkey.
The so-called hotspots, an EU plan to screen, register and identify arrivals on the Greek islands, have failed as EU states have not fulfilled their commitments to send EU personnel and staff.
In the first 21 days of this year, the number of refugees who arrived in Greece has increased over 20 times compared to the same period in 2015, IOM estimates suggested.
Last year, EU officials were sent to check Greek border control as part of a Schengen evaluation report.
According to statements of EU officials in December, the report would soon be submitted and adopted by the Schengen evaluation committee.
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