EU unveils plan to protect Schengen area

BRUSSELS, March 4 (KUNA) — The European Commission presented Friday a detailed Roadmap of concrete steps needed to end the temporary borders controls imposed by some EU member states to keep out the refugees from Syria and Iraq.
“We are presenting a roadmap towards return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area without internal border controls. While the exceptional and temporary controls that are happening now in 8 countries of the Schengen zone are according to the rules, we cannot forget the objective; that they are indeed exceptional and temporary,” EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, told a press conference here today.
The 26-country Schengen area allows passport free travel, and re-establishment of border controls within the Schengen area would cost the EU economy between 5 and 18 billion euro annually, he noted.
On his part, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a separate press release that “Schengen is one of the most cherished achievements of European integration, and the costs of losing it would be huge. Our aim is to lift all internal border controls as quickly as possible, and by December 2016 at the latest.” In a related development, the European Commission pledged Friday EUR 55 million to address the immediate needs of Syrian school-children in Turkey for access to formal education, and 40 million euro in humanitarian aid through the World Food Programme.
The EU’s executive body has also awarded 3.5 million euro in emergency funding to Greece.
The funding will help cover the running costs for human resources in the Reception Centres that will be set up on the Greek islands of Kos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Leros.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has today adopted the second report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, highlighting the steps made by Turkey since the last report in October 2014.
The EU launched the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue with Turkey on 16 December 2013, in parallel with the signature of the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement for illegal migrants. (end) nk