Avramopoulos: 'Schengen must be safeguarded'
Following emergency talks with Denmark, Sweden and Germany, Commissioner tries to downplay concerns and insists things 'will return to normal as soon as possible'.
European migration, home affairs and citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has held an emergency meeting in Brussels with Swedish, Danish and German officials. This follows the decisions of Sweden and Denmark to reintroduce ID checks at their borders, bringing further doubt to the sustainability of Schengen.
Sweden has imposed checks on the frontier with Denmark, while Denmark has done so on its border with Germany. Government ministers explained that this was to help the countries deal with the large number of refugees coming in.
Seemingly trying to appease worries surrounding free movement in Europe, Avramopoulos insisted that things would, "return to normal as soon as possible" and that all parties, "agree that Schengen and free movement must be safeguarded, both for citizens and the economy."
- Baltic bridge border checks increases pressure on Schengen
- Paris terror attacks threaten EU freedom of movement
- Europe needs a 'strong Schengen' to facilitate European integration
He added that; "The only way forward is a European solution with all 28 member states in order to protect borders, respect rules and ensure the relocation of refugees."
Last year, member states pledged to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece, but so far only 272 people have been transferred to other countries.
Danish integration minister Inger Støjberg explained her country had temporarily closed its border because they, "don't wish to be the final destination for thousands of asylum seekers."
Her Swedish counterpart Morgan Johansson said; "We all agree that Schengen has been very beneficial for Europe as a whole". He called for a Europe-wide reaction to the ongoing refugee crisis, underlining that Sweden is, "a country that can do a lot, and has done a lot, but we cannot do everything - all EU member states need to share responsibility."
Danish and Swedish officials are due to meet later this month to re-assess the situation.
Parliamentary state secretary in the German federal ministry of the interior, Ole Schröder, argued that for his country, "border controls are necessary, because the average influx is 3200 refugees a day and numbers are not declining."
"It is important to address cause and effect in the right order," he stressed, "Our problem at the moment in Europe is that we do not have a functioning border control system, especially between Greece and Turkey. We must apply the common European asylum system properly."
Since the start of the refugee crisis many months ago, there has been no shortage of calls to action and emergency Council meetings. However, member states have yet to formally agree to or apply any concrete solutions.
In recent years the EU has experienced a bewildering wave of terrorist attacks from groups and individuals.
If Europe is serious about fighting terrorism and extremism, the institutions of the EU need to be more actively engaged in the current situation involving Qatar, argues Richard Burchill.
There are different reasons why people believe in extremist ideologies or join extremist groups, explains Alexander Ritzmann.