Schengen under threat as Slovenia joins peers considering border controls – EURACTIV.com
The latest wave of migration is prompting several EU countries to reintroduce border controls, prompting adjacent states to do the same, with Slovenia now considering reintroducing controls at southern crossings as neighboring Croatia prepares to join Europe’s increasingly limited borderless Schengen area.
Slovenia is preparing to reintroduce border police checks after Croatia’s entry into the Schengen area, fearing that illegal migrants will remain stranded in Slovenia because of police checks in Austria, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said on Monday. Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon.
Croatia is set to join the borderless Schengen area from January 1, 2023, pending final confirmation from EU leaders in December, making its border with Bosnia and Serbia the new Schengen external border.
Zagreb has faced continued allegations of violence at its borders, with human rights activists recently saying last week that the practices, illegal under international law, were continuing.
While Slovenia has previously said that the very fabric of Schengen is at risk due to internal border police checks, for example Austria’s police checks at its border with Slovenia since the 2015 migrant crisis, the country is now ready to add controls to its own.
“Now, with Croatia’s accession to Schengen, we don’t want Slovenia to become a pocket due to the increase in the number of migrants and refugees,” Fajon said after Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council session. .
“Slovenia is ready to introduce internal controls the next day, the next week or the next month, whenever necessary,” added the social democratic politician.
The latest data from Frontex shows that the number of illegal crossings of the EU’s external border in the first ten months of this year increased by 73% compared to the same period last year. The Balkan route, of which Slovenia is a part, remains the main entry point.
Fajon said she has told her EU counterparts that clear rules need to be established within Schengen and internal checks are limited when not really needed. The reform, which has been in the works for years, must finally take place, otherwise Schengen will be in serious danger.
Slovenia is the latest of the frontline countries on the Balkan route to face the decision of whether to close borders to curb migration after neighbors did the same.
Last week, Slovakia pressured the Czech Republic to ease border controls from September 29 at entry points along the 252 km border to deter migrants from traveling on foot or on foot. being smuggled into vehicles.
Prague introduced the checks after seeing a 12-fold increase, to 12,000, in the number of illegal migrant detentions so far in 2022, often causing hours-long traffic delays.
This month, the Slovak government set up a camp of 16 tents in Kuty, a border town, to manage the flow of migrants stopped by checks.
Meanwhile, voices in Slovakia are pushing the government in Bratislava to follow suit and close its borders with Hungary, a southern neighbor and Schengen member.
“We should have closed the borders with Hungary a long time ago,” National Council President Boris Kollár said, noting that “here, migrants roam the fields like mice.”
It is mainly at the external Schengen border between EU member Hungary and non-member Serbia that many migrants, the vast majority of whom are Syrians, heading mainly to Germany, cross the bloc. before passing through Slovakia and the Czech Republic, according to the authorities.
(Sebastijan R. Macek | Sta.si)