Reforms to the European Union’s Dublin agreement could see countries that do not accept migrants banned from the Schengen passport-free zone, according to claims from a Greek newspaper.
Changes to the Dublin agreement, which governs refugee and migration policy within the European Union, have been discussed earlier this year and according to Greek newspaper Ta Nea and reported by Courier International, part of the Le Monde group, at least six priorities have been discussed.
The six points are said to have been discussed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the Greek leader’s visits to Paris and Berlin in August.
Among the priorities are increased cooperation between the EU’s border agency Frontex and Greek authorities to combat the arrival of illegal migrants along with tracking smugglers and simplifying deportations of illegals.
According to the Greek paper, the issue of migrant redistribution is also part of the new agreement which could see nations that do not accept new migrants, or family reunification, being excluded from the Schengen passport-free area.
Schengen is the passport-free travel area where some 400 million EU citizens can move around the zone freely, and where Non-EU visitors can also arrive in one Schengen country and travel to another without passport checks. Countries are allowed to temporarily suspend Schengen for reasons including security and recently, mass migration, such as when Denmark and Germany enacted emergency border controls in 2018 in response to continued illegal immigration.
Not all EU members are in Schengen — e.g., the UK and the Republic of Ireland are not — and Schengen is not the same as Free Movement — which is mandatory as part of European Union membership — where EU citizens have the right to travel to, and live and work in, any of the 28 member states. Even if Schengen were restricted, free movement of EU citizens would continue.
The Greek government recently announced measures to clamp down on illegal migration and have seen a recent increase in arrivals of migrants.
In one day alone, the island of Lesbos saw 500 new arrivals, the highest in a single day since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.
The Greeks are also concerned over the conditions on the islands in the Aegean, many of which are incredibly overcrowded and suffer from crime and violence.
The migrant camp of Maria on Lesbos was designed to accommodate around 3,000 people but currently holds over 10,000.
Italy has previously expressed similar concerns over the distribution of migrants with outgoing interior minister Matteo Salvini stating that Italy was unwilling to keep taking in migrants and demanded temporary reception centres be set up in countries that border migrants’ home nations.