Ministers discuss border controls in light of new refugee routes

Refugees fleeing horrendous conditions in their home countries are being forced to try alternate routes to safety as countries in Europe close their borders (See inside the article for a large view of the map)

In an attempt to address the ongoing migration crisis, EU interior ministers met in Amsterdam on Monday to discuss a proposal to extend the competencies of the border control service Frontex.

This content was published on January 25, 2016 - 21:28 and agencies

“Switzerland generally regards this proposal in a positive light,” said Mario Gattiker, Director of the State Secretariat for Migration. Gattiker attended the meeting in place of Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who was ill.

Among other things, the proposal includes a crisis mechanism by which border guards could be raised from the EU member states and brought together within three days at the EU’s outer borders.

“We see the protection of external borders as central to security in Europe and to a good, credible asylum system,” said Gattiker.

If there were not enough security at the outer Schengen borders, Frontex could be called on. Its services could even be applied against the will of an EU member state, according to the proposal discussed. This point was contentious, however.

“We believe it’s important to find a solution that all member states can support,” said Gattiker. “This is the only way to guarantee that measures will also be implemented.” The past few months have shown clearly what happens when decisions are not supported by everyone, he said.

In Greece, even during the winter, around 3,000 refugees are arriving every day.

As more and more countries close their borders, refugees are turning to new escape routes.

Given the continuing influx of migrants, several EU countries – including Germany and Austria – have reinstated border controls, and Austria has set an upper limit for the number of asylum seekers it will take. This could set a precedent for numerous other countries, including Switzerland.

The EU Commission was asked to evaluate the legal and practical basis for an extension of the inspections, according to Klaas Dijkhoff, State Secretary for Migration in The Netherlands. Currently, inspections at borders are limited to 6 months, and expire in the middle of May, but they could be extended for up to two years.

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