16:20 GMT +319 August 2019
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    French border and customs police control vehicles at the France-Belgium border. File photo

    Why EU 'Should Not' Roll Back Schengen Area to Deal With Terrorism, Migrants

    © AFP 2019 / FRANCOIS LO PRESTI
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    The European Union should not suspend visa-free travel, Joanna Senyszyn, a Polish member of the European Parliament, told Sputnik. As Europe continues to face the terrorist threat and migrant crisis, there have been increased calls to introduce stricter border checks.

    The freedom of travel within the Schengen zone is one of the "milestone achievements" of the European Union, according to the lawmaker. She stressed that Brussels should engage a different tactic to deal with the current crises, instead of simply sealing the borders. 

    Last week, The Guardian reported that France and Germany proposed to restart border controls within the Schengen Area to deal with the terrorist threat. According to a document seen by the newspaper, the proposal calls to extend the length of time members of the Schengen agreement can reintroduce border control from two for four years. The current rules allow members states to restart border checks for up to a maximum of two years in the event of a serious security threat. 

    "Everyone in Europe was happy when border controls were abandoned. Of course, the proposal to restart them is very bad. Of course, it makes sense in some aspects, but Brussels should not make a step back. I like the motto 'No one steps backward,'" Senyszyn told Sputnik Poland.

    The lawmaker pointed out that despite the continuing threats the EU should not abandon its most important values and gains. 

    Senyszyn, however, suggested that even if the proposal is approved there would be no serious obstacles for Europeans traveling across the region. At the same time, she explained that such a measure would be negative for the residents of EU partner states, including Ukraine, that have associate agreements with the bloc. 

    In an interview with Sputnik Germany, Rainer Wendt, chairman of the German Federal Police Labor Union, echoed the Polish lawmaker, saying that no one in Europe wants to roll back to the old instruments of border control.

    Commenting on the means of preventing new attacks in European countries, Wendt stressed that first of all potential terrorists must be prevented from entering the EU. 

    In turn, Wolfgang Bosbach, a German security expert, said that amid the continuing terrorist threat border checks within the Schengen Area are helpful, but it is also important to strengthen the external border of the EU. 

    In September 2015, at the heights of the European refugee crisis, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway restarted border control. The measure was extended until mid-November 2017 earlier this year. France reintroduced border checks in November 2015 following the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015. The measure will be in place until the end of October. 

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    border checks, Schengen area, migrant crisis, terrorism, European Union
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