Tag Archives: border

Schengen area restriction prolongation

Today the Commission invited Schengen Member States and Schengen Associated States to extend the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for another 30 days, until 15 June. While some EU and Schengen Associated States are taking preliminary steps towards easing the measures for fighting the spread of the pandemic, the situation remains fragile both in Europe and worldwide. This calls for continued measures at the external borders to reduce the risk of the disease spreading through travel to the EU. The lifting of travel restrictions should be phased: as underlined in the Joint European Roadmap on lifting containment measures, internal border controls will need to start being lifted gradually and in a coordinated manner before restrictions at the external borders can be relaxed in a second stage.

:“The overall objective of limiting the spread of coronavirus via reduced social interaction remains. Despite progress in many European countries, the situation worldwide is very fragile. It is imperative that any action taken is gradual, with different measures being lifted in different phases” Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said.

“We need a phased and coordinated approach. Restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is our first objective as soon as the health situation allows it. Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders and guarantee access to the EU for non-EU residents for non-essential travel” Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson underlined.

The travel restriction, as well as the invitation to extend it, applies to the ‘EU+ area’, which includes all Schengen Member States (including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) and the 4 Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) – 30 countries in total. The Commission calls for a continued coordinated approach to the prolongation, as action at the external borders can only be effective if implemented by all EU and Schengen States at all borders, with the same end date and in a uniform manner.

The Commission will continue to assist Member States in implementing the restriction on non-essential travel to the EU, including through regular videoconference meetings with Home Affairs Ministers. Any further prolongation of the travel restriction beyond 15 June 2020 would need to be assessed again, based on the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

The Commission invited Heads of State or Government on 16 March 2020 to introduce a temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for an initial period of 30 days. On 8 April, the Commission called for prolonging the travel restriction until 15 May. All EU Member States (except Ireland) and non-EU Schengen countries have since taken national decisions to implement and prolong this travel restriction.

To assist Member States, the Commission presented on 30 March 2020 guidance on how to implement the temporary travel restriction, facilitate repatriations from across the world, and deal with those compelled to stay in the EU longer than they are authorised to as a result of travel restrictions.

The travel restriction does not apply to EU citizens, citizens of non-EU Schengen countries and their family members, and non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU for the purpose of returning home. In addition, to limit to the minimum the impact of the restriction on the functioning of our societies, Member States should not apply the restrictions to specific categories of travellers with an essential function or need. Essential staff, such as doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, researchers and experts helping to cope with the coronavirus, as well as persons carrying goods, frontier workers and seasonal agricultural workers, should also continue to be allowed to enter the EU.

MEPs to debate Schengen future

Members of European Parliamennt (MEPs) will debate with Commissioner Johansson on issues of the future of the border-free Schengen zone, common migration and asylum policy and security in the context of the pandemic.

In a debate in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday afternoon, MEPs will try to clarify how the Commission plans to ensure that temporary controls on the internal borders, reintroduced following the COVID-19 outbreak, are lifted in a coordinated manner. In a plenary resolution adopted on 17 April, the Parliament stressed that “border controls and restrictions on movement must remain proportionate and exceptional… all freedom of movement should be re-established as soon as it is deemed feasible.”

The much-awaited proposal on a new Pact for Asylum and Migration will also be raised with Ylva Johansson, as well as the situation of migrants and refugees at the EU’s external borders and on the main migration routes.

MEPs will also look at the general security situation in the EU, in relation to the pandemic. In a report published in March, Europol warned that criminals are already adapting their modus operandi in view of COVID-19 and engaging in new criminal activities.

COVID19: Schengen area in question

Today the Civil Liberties Committee Chair, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) issued a statement on the reintroduction of border controls at some Schengen internal borders due to coronavirus.

In the last days, several EU member states have reintroduced border controls at their internal borders within the Schengen area or even closed them for certain categories of travellers while some further member states are considering such measures.

https://twitter.com/jflopezaguilar/status/1239490433132224512?s=21

“As Chair of Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee, while I fully share the need for public policy measures restricting social interaction to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus, I urge member states to take their measures in full respect of the principles of proportionality and, above all, solidarity among EU Member States, non-discrimination and the applicable Schengen rules. It is key that when taking measures no discrimination is made between EU citizens.

“It is only through a coordinated approach, rather than actions taken by individual Member States, that we will be successful in addressing the challenge we are all facing.

“The Civil Liberties committee is closely monitoring the situation and expects the Commission, the Council Presidency and the member states to protect all benefits of the Schengen area.”

Image: border control, source: social media.

Germany willing to shelter children

Government is seeking a “coalition of the willing” to shelter migrant children across Europe. The EU is searching for way to avoid the second wave of the 2015 refugee crisis while thousands of migrants gather at Greece’s border. (Image: social media).

Germany is prepared to take in “an appropriate share” of the neediest refugee children hosted in overcrowded Greek migrant camps, Berlin officials said on March 9.
The official underlined that they are prepared to take children together with “a coalition of the willing” along with the other EU countries.

The announcement from the government came after Chancellor Angela Merkel met with members of her coalition government to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Greece including already existing situation in the migrants camps.

At present the crowds of migrants have been gathering along the Greece-Turkey border following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcement Turkey borders were open to refugees seeking to cross into Greece.

German plan is set to help between 1,000 – 1,500 children identified as being particularly in need. This means either unaccompanied children under the age of 14 or children in need of urgent medical assistance. However no clarifications of methods of establishing real age of children were presented publicly. So far in absence of documents humanitarian organisations register age of migrants on bona fide basis without any further verifications. This practice has opened a broad gate of abuses, when young men of 25 years, and older registered as minors.

The Europeans discovered gross abuses in hosting refugee system when a Somalianchild refugee” stabbed a Swedish social worker to death. In the cause of prosecution the assailant has been identified to be at least three years older than the declared age of 15.

Alexandra Mezher, 22, was killed (25.01.2016) after she tried to break up a knife fight at an child migrant centre where she worked in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Educated to care for children Mezher herself had expressed concerns to her family about being the guardian for “big powerful guys aged up to 24“.

EU rejects Turkey migratory pressure

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted a statement on the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders with Turkey. (Image: illustration).

In its statement, the Council acknowledges the increased migratory burden and risks Turkey is facing on its territory and the substantial efforts it has made in hosting 3,7 million migrants and refugees. The Council also strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes and restates that the EU and its member states remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders, in accordance with EU and international law.

In this context the Council reiterates the EU’s full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states in their efforts to manage the EU’s external borders.

On Idlib, the Council notes that the recent and continuing offensive by the Syrian regime and its backers, including Russia, is creating untold human suffering and has provoked the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

The Council therefore calls for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict in Syria in order to avert a slide into international military confrontation, and prevent further suffering.

The Council notes the outcome of the Russia-Turkey meeting yesterday in Moscow and reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its call on all parties to keep in place an immediate and a sustainable ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of civilians on the ground and from the air and to enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance by the international community.

MEPs condemn Erdogan “blackmail”

Greek officials said that in 24 hours between March 2 and March 3 morning hours, 5,183 people were prevented from entering the country,  45 people were detained they added. (Image: social media).

On March 3 morning, two men — one from Mali and one from Afghanistan — were arrested by Greek agents shortly after crossing the border, and loaded into a van with about 20 more people, from Somalia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

The new flow of migrants attempting to illegally enter Europe comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country was easing restrictions on those wishing to cross the border to leave Turkey.

Erdogan said his country, which has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, is unable to cope with a new wave and demands Europe’s “support”.

“It’s done, the gates are open,” Erdogan said March 2 in a TV announcement. “You will have your share of this burden now, ” adding that Europe could expect “millions” of migrants and refugees from now onward.

We strongly condemn the cynical blackmail by Turkish President Erdogan with the lives of people. The European border to Greece is not open and sending people there is dangerous and irresponsible. What happens at the border is fully Turkey‘s responsibility”  wrote in his Twitter micro blog Manfred Weber, the leader of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament.

Migrant shot dead at Greek border

Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, reacting upon the tense situation at external EU border from Turksih side.

Greek border police have shot dead a migrant attempting to reach Europe as clashes grow following Turkey’s announcement that the border was “open.”

The Greek border is being besieged by thousands of migrants being convinced they can reach EU welfare havens following Ankara’s decision to stand down.

Following clashes that saw migrants attacking police with rocks and other objects, one victim was shot through the mouth and died at the scene.

“This is the first reported death among immigrants trying to cross the border from Turkey to Greece,” tweeted journalist Jenan Moussa. “A Syrian man is shot dead by Greek border guards. Here is the video.”

Two Kazakhs risk extradition to China

Kazakhstan should not forcibly return two Chinese citizens fleeing Xinjiang or prosecute them for illegal border crossing while their asylum claims are pending, according to Human Rights Watch.

On January 6, 2020, court hearings against the two ethnic Kazakhs, Kaster Musakhanuly and Murager Alimuly, on charges of illegal border crossing began in the eastern town of Zaysan. The hearing was adjourned after only two hours, although dozens of witnesses and supporters had traveled there to testify on their behalf, and the case was postponed to January 21.

If returned to China, the men would almost certainly face detention and a real risk of torture.

“The government should immediately drop charges of illegal border crossing, halt these proceedings, and guarantee that these men will not be sent back to China as long as their refugee claims are pending,” said Laura Mills, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Kazakhstan can take this opportunity to demonstrate that, unlike in the past, it is a country that upholds its international legal obligations, respects refugee rights, and won’t return people to risk of torture.”

Turkey intercepts 350K migrants

At joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Budapest, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the meeting is an outcome of a 2013 agreement that established a Turkish-Hungarian strategic council on the highest level. Since then, PM Orbán said, the leaders of the two countries have come together yearly to discuss the spectrum of issues of critical importance to both countries.

Hungary exists within a geographic space that has been marked out by three capitals: Istanbul – or Ankara – Moscow and Berlin,” Prime Minister Orbán said, reminding listeners that Russian President Putin visited Budapest a few days ago while the German foreign minister also visited recently.

Turkey is a strategic partner for Hungary in terms of both migration and security,” the prime minister said, because – as a fundamental premise of Hungarian foreign policy thinking – “without Turkey, it is not possible to halt migration to Europe.”

“This year alone,” Orbán added, “Turkey has intercepted 350 thousand illegal immigrants. Had Turkey not done so, they would have already been here in the vicinity of Hungary’s southern border.”

Asked about what would happen if Turkey decided to “open the gates” and let all migrants move toward Europe, Orbán said that “Hungary is a country that is able to protect its borders,” adding that Hungary has all the personnel, defense capability and technology required at its disposal for protecting the border, which is an external border of the Schengen Area.

Millions of illegal migrants face expulsions

President Trump announces the expulsion of “millions” of illegal migrants next week. He also said that Guatemala was “ready to sign an agreement” obliging migrants entering its territory to apply for refugee status there rather than in the United States. The latter face an influx of migrants from Guatemala and other poor Central American countries affected by gang violence.

Donald Trump, who has used the term “invasion”, has made the fight against illegal immigration one of his administration’s priorities. During his election, he had promised to erect the  “wall” on the border between the United States and Mexico. A promise that has long faced funding problems.

This week the United States also confirmed that it would not provide new financial aid to Central American countries until it implemented “concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants arriving. at the US border.”

 

 

 

 

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