European Commission publishes results of first Schengen 'check-up'

Greece's eastern frontier with Turkey poses the biggest challenge for Europe's open-border Schengen area, according to a “check-up” carried out by the Commission that was published this week.

Nearly 30,000 irregular border crossings were recorded on Europe's external borders in the last three months of 2011 said the report which covers the period from 1st November 2011 to 30th April 2012.

Around 75 percent of the crossings occurred at the Greek-Turkish border. The majority were Afghan and Pakistani nationals, the Commission said.

The Commission's biannual overview on the functioning of Schengen, which permits visa-free travel across 26 EU and non-EU countries, is designed to enhance political guidance and cooperation amongst participating countries.

“Everyone needs to do their part to preserve Schengen” said Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom, describing it as “one of the most valued achievements of European integration.”

France and Germany have proposed that states in Europe's Schengen border agreement be given more leeway in suspending the pact in extreme cases. They say amendments are necessary to ensure tighter security within the EU.

Hit by a deepening economic crisis and rising anti-immigrant sentiment, Greece has taken steps to curb the influx of illegal migrants. The government has announced the construction of a 12.5-kilometer wire fence that will stretch along the most porous section of the land border with Turkey.


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