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Ministers from Germany, Sweden and Denmark attempt to renormalise border controls

European media continue to discuss Denmark and Sweden’s recent decisions to restore border controls. European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has invited the representatives of the governments of Denmark, Sweden and Germany to come to Brussels to discuss the issue, European media report. “The goal of this meeting is to improve coordination between the concerned countries in order to ensure a better management of the migratory pressure,” an EC spokesperson is quoted by various sources – such as Il Sole 24 Ore – as having said yesterday, and the discussion is expected to be held this morning.

Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn actually voiced understanding for the re-established controls at the Swedish borders. “I understand that Sweden has reached the point of overload,” he told Der Tagesspiegel. What is more, according to Tove Ernst, spokesperson for Commissioner Avramopoulos quoted by, the current situation in Denmark is “exceptional” due to the significant increase in the number of migrants and asylum seekers.

Elaborating on the EU member states that have reintroduced border controls, Handelsblatt argues that the move could create a domino effect in Europe’s north, as Lithuania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevicius has pointed out. Free movement within the Schengen area seems to be in increasing jeopardy, L’Humanité notes. Also commenting on the fragility of the Schengen agreement, in view of the refugee crisis, Ian Traynor, The Guardian, quotes EU High Representative EC Vice-President Federica Mogherini for saying: “It’s sad to see Europe panic before 700,000 refugees.

This is a sign of weakness. Schengen is different because the temptation to question it comes from inside. First it was the refugees, then terrorism. But what does Schengen have to do with terrorism? Nothing! It has in it the mechanisms that we need also to face these threats.”

A European Commission spokesperson is quoted by Italian sources, such as La Stampa, admitting that Schengen is “under pressure,” and that the EC is working to get it “back to normal.” In other news, it is reported – in German, Dutch and Hungarian media – that, on New Year’s Eve, approximately 80 women were sexually harassed, verbally abused or mugged by a group of roughly 1,000 North African or Arab-looking men in Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart, Germany. Trouw reports that these mass assaults on women have intensified the debate on the accommodation of refugees in Germany.

Members of the right-wing populist party AfD recently called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to finally make the country safe by closing its borders to refugees. The far-right NPD party also called for protests against the German government and refugees. Established political parties fear that the attacks will elicit new violence against refugees. Shelters are now almost daily targets of arson or violence.

German Home Affairs Minister Thomas de Maizière warned yesterday that the fact that people with a migrant background are suspected in Cologne must not lead to suspicion of all refugees. However he says in an interview with Bild Zeitung, that “whoever wants to live in Germany must respect our judicial and societal order and integrate themselves.” If refugees were among the perpetrators, the topic must be publicly addressed, he adds, warning of the development of parallel societies.

34 migrants – the most frequently quoted figure – of which at least seven were children, drowned off Turkey’s Aegean coast yesterday whilst attempting to cross to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos, Belgian, Dutch, British, Maltese, Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish sources report. The European Commission, Bulgarian media add, has announced that only nine member states (Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) had accepted migrants relocated from Italy and Greece.

According to Malta Today the latest figures show that only 272 people from Italy and Greece out of a total of 160,000 have been relocated. As The Guardian notes, European countries have therefore resettled less than 0.2% of the number of asylum seekers they committed to several months ago.



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