Eu, Coronavırus

Eu, Coronavırus

Coronavirus' next victim? It could be Europe's open borders

Coronavirus' next victim? It could be Europe's open borders

27.2.2020

Coronavirus' next victim? It could be Eu rope's open borders

BRUSSELS (NYTIMES) - For Eu rope, the coronavirus could not have arrived at a worse time.. Read more at straitstimes.com.

Many of them can be traced back to Europe's largest outbreak, in Italy, where more than 300 people are now infected.On Wednesday (Feb 26), the bloc's top official for communicable diseases said that Europe needed to prepare more broadly for the kind of crisis that has hit northern Italy.

While she urged far greater coordination among European Union members, she stopped well short of recommending that they start shutting their borders.The free movement of people and goods is a cornerstone of the European Union, referred to by the shorthand"Schengen", after the city in Luxembourg where the 1985 treaty that created what is now a 26-nation, passport-free zone was signed.

The rules allow for the temporary reintroduction of border checks for specific reasons, including terrorist attacks, major migrant surges or health emergencies."Schengen is in a very poor and problematic state," said Ms Marie De Somer, head of the migration programme at Brussels-based think tank European Policy Centre, adding that restoring it to its full functionality hinges on changing the bloc's asylum and migration rules.

Ms Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally, weighed in, also calling for border closures with Italy.Long before the virus, many nationalists, led by Hungary's Prime Minister, Mr Viktor Orban, had complained that Europe could not have open internal borders if its outer borders were weak, allowing asylum-seekers to enter unchecked.

The divisions over the policy are manifold. Germany wants all countries to take refugees whether they like it or not. Greece wants asylum-seekers quickly taken out of its detention centres. Italy doesn't want rescue boats to take refugees to its ports. The list of complaints goes on.

European officials working on a migration overhaul that will affect borderless travel say that the virus is at the very least a setback for their efforts, as it offers populists another opportunity to underline the importance of national border controls.

"If health experts and the commission recommend this, then it would show the system actually can function even in a crisis," she said.

Read more: The Straits Times

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