October 22, 2017

EU moves to tighten border controls

North African migrants in Italy. All they want is a better life - and shoes.

EU governments in the 25 nation, passport-free, Schengen zone would be able to impose border controls when faced with exceptional flows of migrants, according to new European Commission proposals.

The Commission has stressed that such border checks should be temporary. But with wide economic disparity withing the EU and the desire for migrants to better themselves, it is hard to see the controls being anything but permanent.

The European Commission proposals come after the arrival in Italy this year of about 25,000 illegal migrants from North Africa, most of them Tunisians. They had flowed in via France.

The border control rule changes will be discussed by EU interior ministers on 12th May and are expected to be finalised at an EU leaders summit next month.

“To safeguard the stability of the Schengen area, it may also be necessary to foresee the temporary reintroduction of limited internal border controls under very exceptional circumstances, such as where a part of the [EU] external border comes under heavy unexpected pressure”, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said.

For many years the people from countries in the Schengen group have enjoyed freedom of movement and goods within the massive single border. But the massive influx of North African migrants has caused tension between France and Italy.

Italy complains that it is not getting enough help from its EU partners, faced with the influx of people fleeing political turmoil and violence in Tunisia and Libya.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for a revision of Schengen after France stopped migrants arriving by train from Italy last month.

The French government was angered by Italy’s decision to grant the migrants – many of them French speakers – temporary residence permits, which enabled them to enter France legally.

The Schengen zone covers 22 EU states and three non-EU countries – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The UK and Irish Republic still maintain passport controls, but comply with some of the Schengen provisions.

For the people living in the poorer countries surrounding the Eurpean Union, it is understandable that they want a better life for themselves and their families.

When living in poverty in Europe is a better standard of living than what they have in their home countries then any loophole is going to get exploited.

The problem has been amplified with the economic downturn affecting most of Europe. The voters are getting restless about what they see as an unstoppable flow of foreigners taking jobs and soaking up welfare benefits.