05:40 GMT +323 September 2019
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    Calls For EU to Control External Borders, Not Shut Down Schengen

    © AFP 2019 / Carsten Rehder
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    The European Union's founding principle - allowing freedom of movement among countries belonging to the Schengen zone - is at stake after many member states have reintroduced border controls.

    Sweden has imposed strict identification checks, while Austria, Germany, Norway and Denmark have ramped up their border controls. Italy has subsequently announced plans to increase controls along its frontier with Slovenia and in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in Paris, France has tightened up its border security. 

    Danish Police officers check vehicles at the bordertown of Krusa, Denmark.
    © REUTERS / Scanpix Denmark
    Danish Police officers check vehicles at the bordertown of Krusa, Denmark.

    Many governments say that the measures to slowly shut down the Schengen zone have been taken to prevent the rising numbers of refugees rerouting through Europe and entering their territory.  

    However, reacting to temporary border controls by different member states, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE) states that closing the Schengen zone will not solve the problem and will not stem the influx of refugees coming to Europe.  

    Instead, the ALDE suggests the European Commission works more efficiently to implement a European border and coast guard system to control Europe's external borders.  

    Guy Verhofstadt, leader of ALDE said: "Reintroducing border controls under exceptional circumstances for a short period of time may be legal, but it is far from a solution to the refugee and migration crisis in Europe."  

    ​More than a million refugees and migrants fled to Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa in 2015. It is expected the numbers are only going to increase.  

    "The significant number of migrants and refugees that came to Europe in 2015 were fleeing war, conflict and misery. All this, together with the lack of a real common external border, are true causes of the current crisis and not the Schengen area of freedom of movement." 

    The Schengen Agreement is not why we are facing unprecedented migratory pressures, Verhofstadt said.
    © AFP 2019 / Patrick Kovarik
    "The Schengen Agreement is not why we are facing unprecedented migratory pressures," Verhofstadt said.
    The ALDE is calling for a more cohesive European migration and asylum policy and functioning relocation quota system.  

    The quota system, proposed by the European Commission (EC) has been rejected by many European countries. Only 86 refugees who arrived in Italy and Greece in 2015 have been relocated, despite a pledge made by the EC to resettle 160,000 people.  

    Instead of easing the burden from countries like Greece and Italy which received the majority of refugees when they first arrive, many countries chose to erect unofficial border fences and increase immigration controls and checks, creating what Guy Verhofstadt said was a "domino effect" across Europe:

    "The Commission has to verify whether the reintroduction of border controls is necessary and proportionate. So far the reintroduction of internal border controls has only contributed to create a domino effect."

    While the decisions made by individual countries are repeated across Europe, leaders' discussions continue on a path to nowhere.  

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    Tags:
    open border, border control, refugee crisis, Schengen area, border checkpoints, relocation, crisis, humanitarian crisis, border fence, politics, Schengen Zone, European Union, Europe
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