EU backs French demands for better surveillance after Paris attacks

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By Euronews  with WITH REUTERS
EU backs French demands for better surveillance after Paris attacks

EU governments have backed French demands for better tracking of jihadis by stepping up security checks and retaining airline passenger data.

Interior and justice ministers agreed on Friday that they would bring in new measures on surveillance, border checks and gun control.

They will also seek a deal by the end of the year on sharing airline travelers’ data.

Governments called the emergency talks after last week’s terror attacks in Paris which at left at least 129 people dead.

Germany, backed by the European Commission, says the Schengen agreement, which abolished most of the EU’s internal border checks, is not up for debate.

But, in practice, member states can reintroduce such checks if they feel they are necessary in the interest of national security.

“France will maintain the control at its borders as long as the terrorist thereat makes it necessary.’ Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, told reporters in Brussels after the meeting.

Some of the Belgian and French suspects involved in the Paris attacks had travelled to fight in Syria and returned, apparently undetected, to Europe.

Officials have said some may have taken advantage of the large influx of refugees from Syria over the summer to evade normal border controls.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration and home affairs, denied that the passport-free Schengen zone was to blame.

“Schengen is functioning well. Schengen is not the problem,” he told euronews. “We are waiting for points of view, opinions of the member states to see whether we can improve and enhance our external border checks.

The EU agency for border controls, Frontex, is to get a stronger mandate to contribute to the fight against terrorism.

Euronews correspondent Efi Koutsokosta reports that what’s at stake now is the immediate implementation of these measures.

This is especially important, our correspondent add, as the EU and Turkey discuss strengthening the bloc’s external borders amid the intensifying influx of refugees and migrants to Europe.