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

Video 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid