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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs