EU gives Greece three-month border control deadline

European Commission warns Greece that it will allow member states to extend inter-Schengen border controls for up to two years if it fails to implement migration recommendations 

Greece is the main gateway for refugees seeking to enter Europe
Greece is the main gateway for refugees seeking to enter Europe

The European Union has formally issued Greece with a three-month ultimatum to remedy "deficiencies" in controlling an influx of migrants from Turkey or effectively face suspension from the Schengen passport-free zone.

The decision – taken by EU minister despite strong Greek objections – culminates weeks of pressure from Greece, the main European gateway for the million refugees and migrants that entered the continent last year.

A report adopted by the European Commission 10 days earlier found that Greece was failing to properly register and fingerprint asylum seekers during inspections at the Turkish land border and Aegean Sea islands last November. 

"It is of utmost important that Greece addresses the issues identified in the report adopted by the Commission as a matter of priority and urgency," a statement from the ministers read, according to AFP news agency.

“[Athens must] within one month … establish an action plan to remedy the deficiencies … [and] within three months of the same date, it shall report on the implementation.”

If Greece fails to remedy the problems by mid-May, Brussels could authorize member states to extend border controls within the Schengen zone, including with Greece, for up to two years instead of the normal six months.

Such a manoeuvre under article 26 of the Schengen zone's border code.

EU officials and diplomats said that the move does not aim to isolate Greece, but instead ensure that border controls implemented in other member states, including Germany, can remain in place without technically breaking the law, according to Reuters.  

European Council President Donald Tusk in January warned EU member states that the Schengen zone could collapse if they did not bring the wave of migration to Europe "under control." 

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