News / Europe

European Union Looking to Control Illegal Immigration

French far-right National Front party demonstrators hold banners reading 'stop uncontrolled immigration', during protests against Italian government's immigration policy, on the French side of the border between France and Italy, in Menton (File Photo - A
French far-right National Front party demonstrators hold banners reading 'stop uncontrolled immigration', during protests against Italian government's immigration policy, on the French side of the border between France and Italy, in Menton (File Photo - A

The European Union may be moving towards reintroducing national border controls in order to regulate illegal immigration.

More than 15 years ago a group of seven European countries started what is called the Schengen Zone, where travel between nations is unchecked. Over time it has expanded to 22 countries. But the tide may be turning.

The European Union Commission has put forward a plan to reinstate border controls in “exceptional circumstances”.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom emphasized the importance of the free-travel zone.

"Schengen is a fantastic achievement that we have achieved in the European Union and we should protect it and defend it," said Malmstrom.

But Malstrom said migration has to be properly managed and weaknesses in the system need to be fixed in order to make it stronger.

“We will look at a possible introduction of a suspension mechanism on a very strict conditions, monitored on a European level," added Malstrom.

The move comes as anti-immigration sentiment is sweeping across Europe. Electorates and politicians alike are raising fears about immigrants taking jobs and hoarding social services.

That attitude has been simmering for some time, but recent uprisings in North Africa have brought the situation to a head. About 25,000 people, mostly from Tunisia, sought safety in Europe. They went to Italy first and from there some went to France - the land of their mother tongue.

France and Italy say the burden is too high, although the number is only 10 percent of annual immigration to the European Union and pales in comparison to the 600,000 Libyans who have fled to Egypt and Tunisia. 

"At the moment it is kind of a knee-jerk reaction to an external crisis," said Jan-Hinrik Meyer-Sahling, a Europe expert at Britain’s University of Nottingham. "What we have here, there is an underlining sentiment that is anti-immigrant in Europe and the crisis at the moment makes the issue much more salient."

He says the European Union is going through growing pains. But, as in other crises, it should come out of the situation strengthened and with EU countries working together to mend weak spots in the system.

Freedom of movement, he says, is fundamental to the European Union and will not be cast aside.

“I believe that what we may see is temporary restrictions but in the end the importance of the freedom of movement is too high, it is too fundamental an issue for the identity of the European Union as a political system, so that I suspect that if there will be changes then these changes will be only temporary,” said Meyer-Sahling.

But with anti-immigration feelings felt across Europe, some analysts say the shift may have more longevity. A recent survey by the research group Transatlantic Trends showed that majorities across the European Union want their national governments, not the broader European Union, to control who enters their country and at what rate.

The temporary plan proposed by the EU commission this week will be discussed at a meeting of ministers later this month.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More