The EU summit has concluded with leaders agreeing to tighten migration controls including a potential rollback of the Schengen accord, reintroducing border controls between states.
It is a controversial response to an influx of migrants fleeing unrest in North Africa, but the leaders insisted border controls would only be reintroduced in what they called ‘truly critical’ circumstances.
“The final conclusion says that we need better evaluation, better reporting, better support to member states who are in difficulties, and they call upon the Commission to regularly report together with EU member states’ experts,” said the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
The tightening was presented as a way of saving, not scrapping Schengen, as public hostility to runaway immigration and unrestricted travel in parts of Europe is growing.
“If the external borders are under great pressure, we need a kind of exception also to ensure that the people actually support this whole idea about Schengen,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
A vote to permanently reintroduce border controls in the Danish parliament on Friday was postponed for a week, after it announced on May 10, without consulting other EU members, that it would do so.
“Now we’ll have to wait and see how the Schengen treaty will be rewritten. The rules will have to be very clear to prevent any government playing fast and loose with the small print,” said euronews’ Brussels reporter Margherita Sforza.