EU issues Greece 3 months' ultimatum
EU member states yesterday gave Greece a three-month ultimatum to remedy "deficiencies" in controlling the influx of migrants or effectively face suspension from the Schengen passport-free zone.
The decision -- taken by ministers over Greek objections -- culminates weeks of pressure on Greece, the main gateway for the million refugees and migrants who entered Europe last year, stoking the continent's biggest such crisis since World War II.
A report adopted 10 days earlier by the European Commission, the EU executive, found Greece was failing to properly register and fingerprint migrants during inspections at the Turkish land border and several islands in the Aegean Sea last November.
The document, seen by AFP, gave Greece, which is already struggling to emerge from a massive debt crisis, one month to "establish an action plan to remedy the deficiencies."
After a further two months, Greece must report back on how the scheme is being implemented.
If Greece fails to remedy the problems by mid-May, Brussels could authorise other member states to exceptionally extend border controls within the EU's cherished Schengen area, including with Greece, for up to two years, instead of the normal six months.
The Schengen area allows passport-free travel through 26 countries, most of them in the EU, and is put forward as one of the major European achievements on unity.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy came under fire again as French Prime Minister Manuel Valls yesterday warned it is not sustainable in the long run. Valls's criticisms came after his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev lambasted Merkel's asylum policy as a "total failure."