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EU: Schengen: Greece still unhappy with new external border control demands
12 February 2016
The Greek government continues to dispute the findings of a European Commission report that cites "serious deficiencies" in Greece's external border control and application of the Schengen legal framework ("Acquis").
Nevertheless, with Greece voting against and Cyprus and Bulgaria abstaining, the Council of the EU has now adopted a Decision that makes 50 demands on Greece and warns the country "not to jeopardise the functioning of the Schengen area."
The Commission announced the adoption of its report on 2 February. See: Commission adopts Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and proposes recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management
(press release, pdf)
At a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (where national officials approved the text of the Decision on 10 February), the Greek delegation announced its intention to vote against and made a statement:
"Greece wishes to reiterate its position, that the findings of the unannounced evaluation visit carried out from 10 to 13 November 2015 do not constitute “serious deficiencies” and show no evidence that “Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations”.
Greece further underlines that the massive mixed migration flow is of a nature that would put the external border control of any Member State under severe pressure (...) Greece will continue to work in close cooperation with EU institutions, agencies and other Member States to address the disproportionate migratory pressure, to mobilize resources and to put every effort primarily to protect refugees fleeing from war."
See the statement by Greece in the annex of: Draft Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the serious deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders by Greece
(5877/2/16 REV 2, 11 February 2016, pdf)
Council press release: Schengen evaluation of Greece: Council adopts recommendation to address deficiencies in external borders
And the full-text of the Recommendation, as it was on 10 February before further revisions were made (the revised version is not yet public): Draft Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders by Greece
(LIMITE doc no: 5876/15, pdf).
The Recommendation contains detailed instructions including demands for stepping up fingerprinting, identification and registration of migrants; "establishing a comprehensive and effective coastal surveillance system"; and improving document checks amongst other things.
It ends with what sounds like a warning: "take appropriate measures to ensure that at all external borders of Greece, external border control is carried out and brought in line with the Schengen Acquis in order not to jeopardise the functioning of the Schengen area."