Following a positive opinion by the Schengen evaluation committee on Friday, the College of Commissioners has today adopted the Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and a proposal for a Council Recommendation on addressing the serious deficiencies identified in the evaluation report on the application of Schengen rules in the field of management of the external borders by Greece. The recommendations will be submitted to the Council for adoption.
The Schengen evaluation mechanism, established in October 2013, provides for the verification of the application of the Schengen rules through monitoring visits to a given Member State by Commission-led teams with experts from Member States and Frontex. The Schengen evaluation report for Greece and the Proposal for a Council Recommendation has been drawn up jointly by Member States experts and Commission representatives.
Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Our ability to maintain an area free of internal border controls depends on our ability to effectively manage our external borders. Today we are proposing a set of recommendations to ensure that, at all external borders of Greece, controls are carried out and brought in line with Schengen rules. At the same time, we take note of the efforts of the Greek Authorities to improve the situation and are reminding that all parts of the Commission's comprehensive plan need to be applied to face the unprecedented pressure at Europe's external borders. The objective of the European Commission and of the Member States is to safeguard and strengthen Schengen. We will only save Schengen by applying Schengen."
The recommendations seek to ensure that Greece applies all Schengen rules related to management of external border correctly and effectively. Recommendations are made in a number of areas such as the improvement of the registration procedures, including ensuring a sufficient number of staff and fingerprint scanners for registration and verification of migrants and their travel documents against SIS, Interpol and national databases. Greece should provide the necessary facilities for accommodation during the registration process and launch return procedures for irregular migrants who are not seeking asylum and who are not in need of international protection. Border surveillance should be improved, including the establishment of a risk analysis system and increased training of border guards. Improvements should also be made to infrastructure and equipment at the border crossing points.
In order to ensure compliance with these recommendations, the Commission may, in addition, recommend that Greece takes certain specific measures under Article 19a of the Schengen Borders Code, given the serious deficiencies noted in the Schengen Evaluation Report.