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Greece remains in Schengen, at least until March

05 December 2015 / 14:12:07  GRReporter
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The question of Greece's leaving Schengen will be discussed in March. This was the main comment of the Home Affairs Council in Brussels yesterday. Greece narrowly avoided the risk of the issue being discussed right now: the actions taken by Athens on Thursday apparently had a positive effect and changed the negative attitudes towards the country.

"The efforts made by Greece in recent days are worthy of respect," said Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn during a press conference. He visited Greece on Monday and said the country had requested the dispatch of the rapid border intervention teams, RABIT, to participate in the protection of its external borders on the islands. It has also asked for a Frontex team to dislocate along its border with Macedonia. Asselborn confirmed that 422 people from Frontex had already been sent to Greece.

In March, the six-month internal border controls imposed by several countries such as Germany and Austria, is coming to an end. The issue of Greece will be discussed at the same time.

"On Thursday, Greece showed substantial progress, congratulations," said EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. He pointed out that much work remains to be done despite the achievements. Five hotspots have to be finished by the year end in line with the country's commitment, the fingerprint verification system has to be accelerated, and 50,000 refugees have to be provided with shelter.

According to Asselborn, it should not be forgotten that Greece has been facing a much stronger refugee flow than any other European country, it has five islands in close proximity to Turkey, and more than 10,000 people a day enter the country – despite all these hardships, the country has been doing its best.

For Avramopoulos, who played a major role in softening the atmosphere, Schengen is the solution rather than the problem.

Yiannis Mouzalas, immigration policy deputy minister, believes yesterday's council has put paid to speculations over Greece's exit from the Schengen area, which last week were actively spreading outside the country and were used inside it, too.

Yesterday it was also decided that member states have access to airline passenger data in the context of combating terror. Avramopoulos described this policy as "balanced" between citizens' security and the protection of their personal data.

Measures for closer cooperation with Internet service providers were also agreed with the aim of clamping down on terrorist propaganda on the web.

Tags: Schengen exit Home Affairs Council Jean Asselborn borders
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