BERLIN / PARIS – France and Germany on Tuesday urged tightening the European Union’s borders to prevent what French President Emmanuel Macron called a “terrorist threat” after alleged Islamic militants entered eight people within a month Paris, Nice and Vienna had killed.
The attacks re-focused the European Union’s attention on religious extremism, which was high on the political agenda following the defeat of Islamic state forces in the Middle East in 2017.
Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel came under pressure to increase security and reassure voters after the recent attacks, saying Europe’s troubled Schengen zone for unattended travel across open borders urgently needs to be repaired.
Attackers who moved freely between the Schengen countries were involved in the attacks in Nice and Vienna.
“The threat of terrorism burdens all of Europe. We have to react,” said Macron after discussing the matter with Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and top officials in Brussels, the European Union. Hub.
“Reforming Schengen means enabling freedom of movement in safety.”
Merkel sided with Macron to demand stricter controls along the external border of the Schengen area, which includes 26 countries, including most of the E.U. Members as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
“It is extremely important to know who is coming in and who is leaving the Schengen area,” she said.
National security concerns, chaotic migration to the E.U. In recent years from the Middle East and Africa and most recently due to the coronavirus pandemic, some border controls in the Schengen zone have resurfaced. This undermines what has been hailed as a milestone in the integration of Europe after World War II.
Austria’s Kurz also called for a more coordinated plan for dealing with foreign militants, while Dutch Prime Minister Rutte insisted on stopping “unwanted” foreign funding as a further way to fight extremism.
Other ideas include stricter requirements for online platforms to combat extremism, the establishment of a special European institute to train Muslim imams and the effective deportation of people who are not entitled to asylum in Europe, as well as criminals and suspected extremists.
EU. Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meet in Paris on Friday, the fifth anniversary of coordinated attacks in which Islamist gunmen killed more than 130 people, to discuss a joint security response to the recent incidents.
Improving the exchange of security data and strengthening the border force of the Frontex bloc are also on the European Union’s to-do list, according to their draft decision, which was seen by Reuters.
It is crucial for Macron that the ministerial decision allows the language-enhancing E.U. the right of countries to temporarily suspend free movement across Schengen borders during security warnings. France has had such restrictions on free movement since 2015.
However, many of the proposals now on the table have proven difficult to negotiate, let alone implement, suggesting that the 27 national E.U. Executives will have a tough nut to crack when deciding on concrete steps to take in December.
Discussion of stricter security is taking place as the bloc’s executive has made efforts to “start over” another sensitive debate within the bloc – immigration.
Brussels proposed last summer resolving long-standing disputes over how to deal with newcomers by seeking stricter border controls, stricter asylum controls and effective return of ineligible people – but also a warmer welcome for refugees and legal migrant workers on the aging continent.
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The 27 E.U. Ministers will discuss these proposals on Friday. Commenting on the recent attacks, Ylva Johansson, the European Union’s chief migration officer, said on Tuesday the two debates should not be confused.
“It is important that we are not afraid of migration, especially not of migrants,” said the Swede in a speech.
“We have to manage migration, but migration in itself is not a security threat. There can be people who are dangerous – among migrants, but also among people who already live here.
“Migration as such is not dangerous,” said Johansson.