Calls for Schengen changes as European migration crisis mounts

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the mass influx of refugees into Europe this year is putting at risk the Schengen agreement, which allows free cross-border travel across 26 Continental nations.

Shengen agreement visa
With Germany preparing for the arrival of 800,000 refugees this year alone, Mrs Merkel called on other EU nations to agree to a more even distribution of refugees across the region."If it's not possible to achieve a fair allocation of refugees within Europe, then some people will want to put Schengen on the agenda," she told a press conference. "That's not our aim. We want a fair allocation of refugees and then we won't have to discuss Schengen."All EU nations are signatories to the 1995 Schengen agreement except Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. Governments in the UK and several Eastern European nations have set their faces firmly against the sort of generous refugee quotas that have already been accepted in Sweden, Austria and Germany.Even so, many of those nations in the east, such as the Czech Republic and Poland, garner substantial economic benefits from the open borders and, refugees notwithstanding, will not give up the commercial advantages lightly.Meanwhile, border checks introduced by the Austrian authorities on Monday were being interpreted by some as a direct violation of the Schengen guarantees of free movement.Both Austria and Hungary are cracking down at their borders amid the mounting chaos of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants arriving in the region, many of them hoping to make their way to Germany.Following the discovery last week of 71 dead migrants in a truck near the border with Hungary, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner explained, "We will do controls for an undetermined length of time at all important border crossings in the eastern region, looking at all vehicles that have possible hiding places for trafficked people."The EU will hold an emergency summit on September 14 in a bid to tackle the refugee crisis following a joint call for action by the British, Germans and French.
Theresa May, the UK's home secretary, wrote in the Sunday Times, "The events of this summer have shown that the most tragic consequences of a broken European migration system have been borne by those at risk of exploitation."And the greatest beneficiaries have been the callous gangs who sell false dreams and trade on the free borders within the EU."As countries in Europe are increasingly realising, these tragedies have been exacerbated by the European system of no borders, the Schengen area, in which the UK has never taken part."David Hanson, the opposition Labour Party's immigration spokesman, told International Business Times on Tuesday that there political agreement in the UK that shere should be a thorough examination of Schengen."In the conference that is coming up with ministers on 14 September, we will be arguing that they should at least review it and how it is operates because of the fact that people can enter Greece and travel unended through the whole of Europe to as far as Calais," he said."They've got to urgently establish assessment centres at the main points of hot spots, which are in Greece and some parts of southern Italy. At the moment, you have people coming across who are claiming asylum and migrant status, some of whom are going to be economic migrants. The first thing we need to do is assess to identify and look at what is needed."French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also backed amending Schengen, although the European Commission remains implacably opposed to any changes for either reasons of migration or security.However, Mr Cazeneuve said in a statement, "We invite the Commission to examine a targeted amendment to the Schengen frontier code allowing controls where necessary and when necessary."For more Re:locate news and features about immigration, click here

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