In a decision that is likely to add pressure on Greece, European interior ministers have moved to give states that are part of the Continent's passport-free travel zone more leeway to reinstate border controls.
During a meeting in Luxembourg Thursday, ministers agreed on new rules that would allow states to restore border controls if another country consistently failed to halt unregistered migrants from sneaking into Europe's Schengen area. According to the new rules, which need to be ratified by the European Parliament, EU governments would be able to suspend passport-free travel in parts of Europe for up to two years.
Greece has come under pressure from its Schengen partners for failing to protect its porous eastern border with Turkey. The EU's border agency Frontex says it recorded more than 60,000 illegal migrants crossing into Greece last year, mostly people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
"There must be no weak links in the chain when it comes to illegal migration,» Danish Justice Minister Morten Bodskov told a news conference Thursday.» Steps need to be taken quickly if Schengen cooperation is under threat.