EU calls meeting to assess Europe-wide border queues
Europe-wide border queues following the implementation of new EU security rules has prompted the European Commission to call a meeting of experts in Brussels this week.
“When it comes to lengthy queues we are in contact with several member states and we are going to have an expert meeting this week to address these issues,” an EU commission spokesperson told reporters on Monday.
Tighter controls at airports, land and sea borders for those who enter or exit the 26-country Schengen passport-free area were introduced last Friday as part of a larger anti-terror effort.
The aim of the amended Schengen Border Code is to have a closer control on people entering and leaving the Schengen area by checking all travel documents against national and EU databases.
According to euobserver, however, the task is a large one – and in 2015, more than 200 million border crossings were registered at the external borders of the Schengen area.
Within hours of its launch the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramapoulos, temporarily suspended the implementation of the decree on the Croatian borders with Slovenia and Hungary following extensive queues.
As a result police resorted to checking only passengers from third countries while EU citizens were checked occasionally.
Huge delays were also reported at airports in Greece and Spain.
The Greek police announced they would suspend the systematic ID checks of EU citizens for six months.
The rules allow for a six-month derogation at airports but not at land and sea borders.
The EU commission on Monday said member states “did indeed have time to prepare for the entry into force of these new rules”.
In Gibraltar, commuters expereinced lengthy delays of up to two hours the day before the new Schengan Border Code came into effect on April 7.
Once the new code came into effect, however, frontier flow remained largely fluid.
The UK and Gibraltar are not part of Schengen but Spain is. The Spanish authorities are therefore
legally obliged to conduct checks on all persons walking or driving to and from Gibraltar.
A Government spokesman told the Chronicle yesterday: “The Government is monitoring closely the impact of the implementation of the amended Schengen Border Code by the Spanish frontier authorities.”
“Statistical data is being automatically compiled and documentary and photographic evidence is being put together.”
“The public can rest assured that the Government will take every option at its disposal in order to raise the issue before the pertinent authorities.”