On 25 February, interior ministers of the EU met in Brussels to hold a Justice and Home Affairs Council. The debate on the ongoing migration crisis was reported to be tense, strongly emotional at some points. The V4 ministers start to push for a “Plan B” to strengthen the Schengen border at Greece´s Northern border, if Greece is not able to fully secure its Southern border properly. The majority of EU states does not support this approach so far, but steps have been taken by Austria and Western Balkans states that but even more pressure on Greece (limits to numbers of migrants let into Macedonia and further north). The Greek interior minister is reported to have had heated exchange of opinions with the Czech and Slovak ministers Chovanec and Kalinak.
Ministers also discussed the proposal for a common coast and border guard and urged implementation of the already agreed steps to tackle the crisis, mainly hotspots in Greece and cooperation with Turkey. This cooperation will be further discussed at an EU-Turkey summit in early March. Concerning concrete legislative steps, the ministers adopted a General Approach on the Schengen Border Code amendment proposed by the EC in December. The General Approach is in practice a negotiating position of the member states vis-a-vis the EP concerning the legislative proposal. The amendment will require member states to conduct systematic checks on all entrants of the Schengen area, including EU citizens. Their passports will be screened through relevant databases and persons posing potential threat to public security (returning foreign fighters) will be apprehended. Where the measure could endanger smooth flow of traffic, member states will be able to perform only targeted checks, provided that the risk of this measure is not too high. This will automatically include all airports for a transitional period of 6 months.
2nd May 2018