Greece 'seriously neglected' its borders: EU

2016-01-27 18:35
Volunteers help an elderly woman from Afghanistan out of a dinghy in the village of Skala Sykaminias, on Lesbos. (Mstyslav Chernov, AP)

Volunteers help an elderly woman from Afghanistan out of a dinghy in the village of Skala Sykaminias, on Lesbos. (Mstyslav Chernov, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Brussels - Greece has "seriously neglected" its obligations to the EU's external borders during the migrant crisis, the European Commission said in a report on Wednesday, with Athens facing a possible three-month deadline to take action.

The report comes amid growing pressure on Athens to deal with the flow of migrants, with some fellow European Union states suggesting that Greece could be suspended from the Schengen passport-free area.

"The draft report concludes that Greece seriously neglected its obligations and that there are serious deficiencies occurring out of border controls that must be overcome," commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis told a press conference.

The report is based on an evaluation mission which went in November to the Greek-Turkish land border and several islands in the Aegean Sea - the main landing points for the one million migrants who arrived in Europe in 2015.

If the report is adopted by a majority of the 28 EU member states, the Brussels-based Commission will then draw up an "action plan" to shore up Greece's borders, especially its sea frontier with Turkey.

"Greece will then have three months to implement actions," Dombrovskis said.

A failure by Greece to act would open the door for Brussels to authorise member states to exceptionally extend border controls within the Schengen area for up to two years, instead of the normal six months.

Dombrovskis said the report found that there was a failure to do sufficient registering and fingerprints of migrants who have entered Greece from Turkey, the main gateway for refugees fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

'No bailout link' 

He insisted that the EU would not link Athens's failings on the migration crisis to how it deals with Greece's huge €86bn bailout, sealed last year after the country looked to be on the brink of crashing out of the eurozone.

"We are not linking the Greek [bailout] programme with Schengen related issues," said Dombrovskis, who took a leading role in the drawn-out bailout negotiations last year.

EU interior ministers had asked the commission on Monday to draw up a plan for a possible two-year extension to the controls - which threatens the idea of free movement embodied in the 26-country Schengen area.

In the last few months, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France and non-EU member Norway have all introduced temporary controls over the migrant crisis, but with a limit of six months.

They took the step to deal with a huge wave of migrants moving mostly from Greece towards Germany and Sweden, the main destination for refugees and migrants in Europe.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner warned last week that Athens could face "temporary exclusion" from Schengen.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday said the EU was committing "ritual suicide" with its migration policy.

Read more on:    greece  |  migrants

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.