France to extend border checks
France has extended border checks with countries in Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone until the end of October because of fears of terrorism.
France introduced border controls after the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015 and renewed them every six months.
“Considering the number of recent and thwarted attacks, particularly the one in Trèbes, that have hit French territory, the government has decided a new extension,” the interior ministry in Paris announced.
Moroccan-born French citizen Radouane Lakdim attacked in Carcassonne and Trèbes on March 23, killing four people before he was shot by police.
Unlike temporary checks to control migration within Schengen, security measures do not require formal European Commission approval.
Migrant flows have fallen sharply following EU cooperation deals with Turkey and Libya and the commission last year said it would no longer allow migration as an excuse to impose border checks because it says order has been restored since the 2015 migrant crisis.
But there are fears of a fresh migration crisis in Greece amid a funding row between EU members.
A deal reached between the EU and Turkey in 2016 has helped to reduce the flow of refugees by almost 90 per cent but it is reportedly on the point of collapse.
Turkey was promised €6 billion in aid in exchange for taking back refugees and migrants who had reached Greece illegally.
A first tranche of €3 billion was released to Turkey in 2016 but leaked documents published by Der Spiegel suggested that there was a reluctance by six member states to pay the outstanding sum.
In a joint letter to the EU Commission Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland voiced misgivings about the payment.
A total of 26 European countries, including 22 EU member states, are in Schengen, where no passport is required when crossing borders.
Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member Norway have also imposed border controls, to control migration, not for terrorist concerns.
In November 2017 the countries used security concerns as a reason for renewing the border checks.
Permission for the five other countries to continue the checks expires on May 12 and most appear likely to apply for renewal.
Austria’s interior minister Herbert Kickl from the far-right Freedom Party asked for a six-month extension of controls on its Hungarian and Slovenian borders.
Though illegal migrant arrivals have decreased, “the smugglers would see the loss of internal border checks as a false signal and intensify their activities”. Kickl’s letter said, according to the Austrian media.
Meanwhile Poland, Hungary and Slovenia have complained to the EU that they are paying economically for the border checks, questioning the security necessity.
Built from 1,300 to 1,500 metres high on a rock of quartzite and surrounded by deep cliffs, the Forts de l’Esseillon prevented earlier invasions from Italy. Picture credit: Wikimedia