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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid