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Germany, France begin fight to close borders

The Local · 20 Apr 2012, 07:11

Published: 20 Apr 2012 07:11 GMT+02:00

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In a joint letter to the European Union's Danish chair ahead of talks among interior ministers in Luxembourg on April 26, France's Claude Guéant and Germany's Hans-Peter Friedrich say the Schengen set-up, which abolished frontier controls in 1995, needs a radical revamp.

Schengen is an area that is home to 400 million Europeans and covers 25 states. Once inside Schengen illegal immigrants can theoretically move freely between countries, as people passing between the borders of two member states do not have to show identification.

Friedrich and Guéant said that where a government within the area fails to meet its obligations to manage external frontiers - Greece for one is under intense migratory pressures at Europe's south eastern fringe – partners should have "the possibility, as a last resort, to reintroduce internal frontiers for a period not greater than 30 days."

Currently, only the European Commission, or EU civil service, can decide short-term emergency blocks on individual frontier pressure-points.

The ministers also insisted that such decisions should not be left to permanent Brussels officials - but be left as the sole preserve of national ministers voting in the European Council of EU member states.

Fighting to hold onto power ahead of Sunday's first-round election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a rally last month that without "serious progress" on a rewrite of the Schengen treaty over the coming year, that France would leave the group completely.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:02 April 20, 2012 by The-ex-pat
I would not hold my breath on this. The UK has always had full boarder control regardless of the Schengen agreement. The amount of illegal immigrants that the UK has you would have thought it was a full open boarder member of Schengen. This political window shopping because no one has any real idea how to combat the problem.
09:05 April 20, 2012 by 9900lawre
No point in having a border check without a fence! Immigrant gets out of the car on one side of the border, Walks accross a field into the country he wants to go and then gets back in the car a couple of Km down the road.

Pointless sabre rattling.
10:32 April 20, 2012 by key79
Proper joke and pre-election inexpensive bubbles marketing. As if the illegal immigrants, prone to be cought in this manner constitute any significant threat to anything.
10:42 April 20, 2012 by AlexR
Aww… got to love the thinking of the German/French governments. This is another great example of EU solidarity and a let-them-eat-cake attitude.

Their agenda goes like this: First, establish the Schengen travel zone to make it easier for our tourists to travel in sunny Southern Europe. Second, make sure (e.g., through EU enlargement) that your country doesn¦#39;t have any external EU borders.

Third, force the other countries to sign the Dublin II Regulation, i.e., the first EU member state that a migrant enters should be the one to examine his asylum application, meaning that other member states regularly send asylum claimants back to Greece/Spain/Italy, as those countries are often the first EU countries a migrant steps foot in.

Greece/Spain/Italy you say? But those are 3 of the 4 members of the PIGS group. What to do? I've got an idea! Fourth, bring those PIGS down to their knees by demanding harsh austerity measures and public cuts. Their Border Patrol agencies are affected by those public cuts you say? Well, tough luck!

Fifth, when the above measures obviously backfire, refuse to take any responsibility, and blame only "a government within the area that fails to meet its obligations to manage external frontiers".

Sixth, instead of proposing a real and long-lasting solution (e.g. amendment of the Dublin II Regulation, increased EU patrol of the EU external borders), take the pill of closing-my-borders-for-30-days, hoping that the disease will get away. Well… it won't.
10:56 April 20, 2012 by whiteriver
seventh, profit...
11:09 April 20, 2012 by michael4096
I agree with key79 - non-issue blown up by pre-election hype
11:50 April 20, 2012 by AlexR
@whiteriver: "seventh, profit..."

I deliberately left it out, because it was very obvious...
15:37 April 20, 2012 by ChrisRea
The idea of revamping the Schengen agreement is correct. However, I believe it would be better to temporary suspend the countries with problems (such as Greece, where corruption affects also the border security).

@ The-ex-pat

"The UK has always had full boarder control regardless of the Schengen agreement." - Of course. UK and Ireland have no connection at all with Schengen. Why would one think that they give up border control?

@ 9900lawre

"No point in having a border check without a fence!" - Really? Do you think that the border police stays only at the customs points?
16:15 April 20, 2012 by smart2012
no comment, rather than EU is getting to an end
17:52 April 20, 2012 by smart2012
@ Chango Mutney

As always I agree with what you say.. the only thing which I may point out is that I thought Roman empire was the biggest ever, but I was never good in history/geography, so that is why i maybe wrong :-)
17:54 April 20, 2012 by AlexR
@ChrisRea: "I believe it would be better to temporary suspend the countries with problems (such as Greece, where corruption affects also the border security)."

Do you have any evidence/source/link on that or it's just an assumption of yours based on the generalization "since everyone in Greece is corrupt, so are the border patrol officers"?

I'm asking because as far as I know, there aren't any reports of widespread corruption in the Greek border patrol. The only EU countries with widespread corruption are/were Bulgaria and Romania, which is the main reason why they haven't been accepted in the Schengen Area yet.

18:32 April 20, 2012 by bob_Ops
@chango- what happened to British empire now? they creeped into nations like a business man and then destabilized the nations and ruled them. British never had a peaceful empire together, it always had its problems within its empire because of its own deeds. Off-course staying united has lots of advantages in the modern world, but every thing in this world that renders an advantage has also a disadvantage, its the perspective that matters when looking at a scenario. A political dialog to stay united is always healthier than creeping, conquering by force kind of attitudes. No pain No gain.
20:48 April 20, 2012 by Supermog
One million illegal immigrants, 3 million registered unemployed, yet still the UK is soft on deportation of illegals, though it won't get better any time soon.
01:01 April 21, 2012 by mikecowler
I say stuff the Schengen treaty and bring back fenced border control...

Also stuff The EU Human Rights Court of Law in Strasburg too....

Of course we could all take the late Argentine Junta Galtieri lead, by just loading terrorist imigrants on a C-130 opening the back door, and dropping them in the ocean tied up, naked and minus a parachute...The EU tends to miss the ocean and drops them in the UK instead where they,re clothed, fed, paid money given a house. etc while the EU says you cant send them back where they came from?
02:02 April 21, 2012 by stablemate77
its not a bad idea.....keep control of borders. the people just flee from the south to more richer nations and mess them up......the free passage between all agreement countries might come to end...the euro too.....this euro dream worked really good in first....but as things a little bit more unstable in europe....maybe france and germany need to tighten the reins a little bit....( reins meaning pull the horse back)....this election in france could change friendships...
15:24 April 21, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ AlexR

Yes, the corruption among Greek police officers who are supposed to fight illegal immigration was not given enough attention. However, if you search long enough, relevant reports are to be found.


'With the government now trying to register and legalize illegal immigrants,

there have been reports that the process has in turn given rise to more

corruption, with bribery networks springing up to facilitate the paperwork.

"Corruption goes all the way through the police force, from the very top to

the very bottom," said Makis Triandafilopoulos, the mild mannered host of a

corruption-busting television program called Yellow Press.'

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/europe/greece.html - "Local police corruption facilitated trafficking in persons."

Not everyone in Greece is corrupt. However, corruption is extremely high and it would have been a miracle if officials dealing with keeping illegal immigrants away would have not be infected with this virus. As an OSCE report about human trafficking puts it, ¦quot;there is a very strong correlation between trafficking and corruption¦quot; and ¦quot;the trafficking of persons … flourishes in part through the corruption of public officials¦quot;.

With Romania and Bulgaria, high corruption is a thing of the past. Since couple of years, all reports show progress in this regard. The two countries are not yet in Schengen purely on political reason, as the opposition of Netherlands is dictated by the extremist right-wing populist party PVV (currently in government).
21:04 April 22, 2012 by raandy
Chango , give it a break ,man you have no clue about America ,stick with what you know ,even if it isn't much.

The UK is a good example of immigration out of control.
21:13 April 22, 2012 by 9900lawre
Fences, Sensors, Regular patrols, CCTV, Whatever and more! There simply isn't enough Border Police or equipment to enforce it for this short time that is supposed to win votes. It's all just a front with nothing to back it up!

All or nothing, otherwise it's pointless sabre rattling
09:32 April 23, 2012 by AlexR

"Yes, the corruption among Greek police officers who are supposed to fight illegal immigration was not given enough attention. However, if you search long enough, relevant reports are to be found."

Thank you for confirming to me your ignorance regarding this subject. Perhaps it was "not given enough attention" because there isn't any *widespread* corruption? I see that you've searched "long enough" and you came up with only two documents. The first is from... 1998 and the second covers the period between 1999-2002.

What's even more funny, isn't the fact that those documents are 14 and 10 years old, respectively. It's that both of those documents are completely irrelevant. They are referring to the *Police* corruption and not the/your alleged corruption of the Border Patrol Agency. In other words, you comparing apples and oranges.

As for Romania and Bulgaria, I've got two comments. First, you say that "since couple of years" the corruption is "a thing of the past" when just one paragraph before you tried to support your unsubstantiated allegations about the Greek border patrol corruption based on "past" 14-year old documents. Am I the only one to see that you apply different standards?

Second, it's rather simplistic to believe that a small Dutch party is the one and only reason that prevents two countries to enter the Schengen area. In reality, the main reason is the systematic widespread corruption of the Bulgarian and Romanian civil service. Perhaps, it decreased the last couple of years but still isn't "a thing of the past", as you say.

And this isn't only said by a small Dutch party but also by Germany, France and Finland, among others. Here is a very recent (as opposed to 14-year old) article:


And the same is also said by the Bulgarians/Romanians themselves. Here's (again) a recent article from the Sofia News Agency:

11:56 April 23, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ AlexR

"... this isn't only said by a small Dutch party but also by Germany, France and Finland, among others."

Really? How come that only the Netherlands opposes the entry of Romania and Bulgaria? All other countries already shown their agreement, it is only the Dutch that are against. Or maybe you need to be updated?

http://www.euractiv.com/euro-finance/dutch-nationalist-leader-pushes-anti-euro-referendum-news-511377 (08 March 2012)

"Rutte (Netherlands' Prime Minister - my annotation) is the only EU leader opposing Bulgaria and Romania's accession to Schengen, on the grounds that these countries cannot be trusted to keep the EU common borders because of corruption. But a more important reason appears to be that Rutte has committed to PVV to uphold the veto."

Here is a strong official pro-Bulgarian position of a president of an EU country (http://praguemonitor.com/2012/03/28/klaus-bulgaria-should-be-part-schengen):

"Rejecting Bulgaria's entry in the Schengen area arises from ignorance and the underrating of the country, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Rosen Plevneliev Tuesday."

Regarding Greece, I gave you the first two links found through Google (TheLocal limits the number of links that can be included in a post to two). I thought it was enough to help you, as you claimed there aren't any reports. If you search yourself, you are bound to find more. If you need a tutorial on Google searches, please let me know.

On the content, my comment was "corruption affects also the border security". I hope you are aware that most of illegal immigrants are not caught exactly at the moment of trespassing (that would require a huge and unnecessary border police), but while they are travelling through the country. Here is where (local) police comes in.

Do you really believe that without corruption within the Greek police, it would be possible that 90% of the illegal immigrants have entered EU through Greece?
15:25 April 23, 2012 by AlexR

I'm aware of the developments regarding the entry of Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen and I even posted a link which you probably didn't read. I quote from that link:

"Of course, Borisov believes that the sole reason Bulgaria is not in Schengen is the tiny PVV party that tantalizes the whole European Council. The Bulgarian PM apparently thinks that the country¦#39;s issues with *corruption* and *organized crime* are topics separate from Schengen and that the xenophobic party of Geert Wilders is the only obstacle remaining on Bulgaria¦#39;s way to join Schengen."

So a Bulgarian writes that there are still issues with "corruption and organized crime" while you say that corruption is "a thing of the past". He also writes that the PVV Party is not "the sole reason Bulgaria is not in Schengen", while you say the opposite. Who to believe? A Bulgarian citizen who writes on the Bulgarian News Agency or you? Easy decision.

Regarding Greece, on your first comment you wrote the unsubstantiated claim that "corruption affects also the border security". When I asked for sources you came with two documents 14 and 10 years old, that didn't even mention anything about corruption of the "border security" but that of the police.

So I ask again. Since you claim to know Google so well, instead of giving me a tutorial, could you find a document that reports about any *widespread* corruption of the Border Patrol agency and *not* the Police? It would be also helpful, if the documents that you find (?) will be less than 14 years old.

As for your last question, you have again mixed up the Border Patrol officers with the police. How the police (even a corrupted one) is responsible for the illegal immigrants entering one country? Isn't this the job of the border patrol? If the police wasn't corrupted, fewer immigrants would have entered the country?

And since you ask how "it would be possible that 90% of the illegal immigrants have entered EU through Greece" without corruption, here are the main reasons. The main points of entry for the illegal immigrants are through Africa (Spain/Italy) and Asia (Greece -only). Until recently, the influx of the immigrants to the EU was 50-60% from Spain/Italy and 40-50% from Greece. This has changed to 20%-80% in 2010 when Italy and Spain signed repatriation agreements with North African countries. However, Turkey has refused to sign similar repatriation agreement with Greece. Those are the two main reasons for the sharp increase of the influx of the immigrants in Greece. Not the alleged corruption.

Combine the above points with two more (Greece is the only point of entry/country in Schengen with *land* borders, it has the longest coastline in EU) with the recent Greek crisis, where instead of hiring more border patrol officers, they can hardly make ends meet, and you've got your answer.

A related article on New York Times:

19:57 April 23, 2012 by 9900lawre
@ChrisRea & @ AlexR

PLEASE, Get a room! It's an article on a sore subject not a who knows best match. Thankyou!
22:14 April 23, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ 9900lawre

OK, I got the point.
14:19 April 24, 2012 by soros
I knew Europe with borders and now I know it without borders and, frankly, I prefer the borders. They lend people a sense of control; of the possibility of safeguarding what is inside from the perceived threats from outside. They give a sense of cultural and political cohesion and identity that is lost when anything and everything can enter as it pleases. Much of the chaos that readers identify can be attributed to the feeling of no control. As for Brussels being the arbiter: who in their right mind would give up national sovereignty to bureaucrats so far away? Scrap the Schengen treaty. Give countries their national character back.
15:14 April 24, 2012 by AlexR
@9900lawre: "It's an article on a sore subject..."

It's an article on France and Germany demanding an amendment of the Schengen agreement "where a government within the area fails to meet its obligations to manage external frontiers" (sic), and all the comments so far are absolutely relevant to the subject of the article.

If you don't like some (again, relevant) comments feel free to ignore them but please don't dictate what we should write.
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