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Refugee crisis continues to challenge the Europe’s very foundations
Many EU media continue to comment on the refugee crisis. All Italian and Austrian media, as well as those in several other EU member states comment on Austria’s decision to build a 370-meter fence at the Brenner Pass in order to tighten border controls and send back refugees. Italian media report that Interior Minister Alfano is to meet with his Austrian counterpart, Wolfgang Sobotka, in order to reiterate his opposition to any border closure. Next week President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet Matteo Renzi to discuss the matter. Kathimerini reports that Jean-Claude Juncker also received a letter from MEPs yesterday, asking him to intervene.
In a letter to Vienna, Migration Commissioner Avramopoulos said that “Europe doesn’t need policies that close borders and put Schengen at risk,” Le Figaro reports. According to Tg3, the European Commission fears Austria’s measure may mark the end of the Schengen agreement. Europe “might die, if the Brenner Pass is closed,” Oliver Meiler writes in SZ. Speaking before the Austrian Parliament, UN chief Ban Ki-moon criticised Austria’s move, saying it is contrary to the Geneva Convention. Speaking before the Austiran Parliament in Vienna yesterday, Ban Ki-moon condemned “increasingly restrictive” immigration policies in Europe, Ilsole24ore.com, Le Soir and Le Figaro report. On the contrary, Reinhard Müller claims in FAZ that Austria’s decision is a sign of “lawful conduct and responsibility.” La 7 cites Wolfgang Sobotka saying that Austria has no intention of building a wall at the Brenner Pass.
Meanwhile, several EU media continue to comment on the EU-Turkey deal. El Pais writes that at a time when member states are beginning to fear the consequences of an open-door policy, the EU is planning on waiving visa requirements for four countries – Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo. With their mind set on the Turkish case, France and Germany yesterday proposed a sort of emergency brake enabling them to reintroduce visas swiftly if a massive flow of citizens from third countries occurs, the Spanish daily ads. Nevertheless, according to The GuardianAlgemeen Dagblad and Magyar Hirlap, First Vice-President Timmermans said yesterday that the EU would not lower its standards to offer visa liberalisation to Turks in exchange for Turkey’s help in preventing migrants reaching Europe. “We will not play around with those benchmarks; the onus is on Turkey. They say they can do it. If they want to come close to the EU so badly, let them prove that they can. The distance between us and Turkey is not decreasing, it is increasing, because of human rights, the media and what is happening in civil society,” The Guardian quotes him as saying. 
Kleine Zeitung reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is increasing the pressure and threatening the collapse of the refugee agreement if there is no visa waiver. The European Commission has said it will make an announcement on Wednesday over whether or not member states should agree to visa-free travel by the end of June, most media report.
Finally, Cypriot, Greek and Italian media report that Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos met with Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano in Sicily on Wednesday for the official inauguration of the European Regional Task Force (EURTF) of Frontex. During a joint press conference, Alfano announced the plans of the Italian Government to establish hotspots that will allow for the identification of refugees rescued in the sea. These screening centres will collect the fingerprints, ethnic origins and family situation of these refugees before they enter Italy, the Minister noted, while stressing that despite the difficulties in 2014 the screening process is now fully implemented. Dimitris Avramopoulos also stressed that Europe is standing by the most affected countries, such as Greece and Italy, but that “we are still not where we want to be.” He called on EU member states to show solidarity and responsibility and to implement the agreements.
©europeanunion2016
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