Rome, Jan 22 (IANS/AKI) Scrapping the Schengen zone to stem Europe’s migration crisis will not stop the Islamist terror threat, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Friday.
He was speaking ahead of a European Union summit on Monday on whether to further extend emergency border controls to the passport-free area.
“You won’t stop terrorists by suspending the Schengen zone. Some of them were born in our own cities,” Renzi told RTL radio.
“We believe in checks and in major investments for security. We oppose halting free flows,” Renzi added. “Free circulation is a European dream.”
Top EU officials have warned that a failure to tackle the migration crisis will spell the end of the 26-state Schengen zone and could even threaten the future of the euro.
A total of 1.04 million migrants arrived in Europe last year, five times as many as in 2014, according to the EU border agency Frontex.
There were 1.83 million illegal crossings at the bloc’s external borders, against 238,500 last year, Frontex said on Friday.
Unable to stem of wave of migrants, Germany and five other Schengen members have introduced temporary border checks in the passport-free zone, which can stay in place until May and which under the Schengen agreement can be extended for up to two years.
Besides other countries that have temporary border controls in place are Sweden, Austria, France, Denmark and Norway (which is not in the EU).
The European Commission this week also signalled plans to abolish rules allowing states to relocate refugees to the first EU country they arrive in.
Officials hope to table a motion to reform the so-called Dublin regulations as early as March, to alleviate the burden placed on southern European counties like Greece and Italy.
In the past few months, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden and others have erected border controls to stem the tide.
Donald Tusk, European Council president, this week warned that the bloc now has “no more than two months” to bring matters under control or face the “collapse of Schengen” itself.