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'No concessions on Schengen', Avramopoulos says

Renzi to send strong signals on migrants at EU summit

19 October, 11:51

    EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos

    (by Patrizia Antonini)

    BRUSSELS - The return to national frontiers "is not an option" in response to the European migrant crisis, European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has said in an interview with ANSA.

    "There will be no concessions on Schengen," said Avramopoulos ahead of a visit to Rome on Thursday and Friday for the G6 meeting on terrorism and migration. Countries wanting to extend border controls beyond the November 12 deadline will have to "justify their reasons" he added in reference to Austria, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Norway, which reintroduced border controls temporarily in May. On asylum seeker relocations Avramopoulos admitted that there is "still strong opposition" to European Commission policy, adding however that he believed that ultimately "the spirit of European solidarity" would prevail. "I know the Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, who is a convinced Europeanist, will send strong messages to his colleagues" at the upcoming European Summit, "where dialogue is substantial and everyone is held to account". On the other hand the number of relocations has grown over the last two months and this "is an encouraging message for Greece and Italy", he said.

    "If things continue at the same rate we will soon be able to say that this policy is working," Avramopoulos added. The commissioner said that the work of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on repatriations and so-called 'migrant compacts', or deals with countries of migrant origin or transit, is ongoing and that she would soon travel with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni to Mali and Niger "to send a strong message to the region".

    "We want to cooperate with them but they must also collaborate with us by taking back their fellow countrymen," Avramopoulos said. "There is a problem in the central Mediterranean," he insisted. "We are by Italy's side as it makes a big effort to manage such a complex situation, and once again I would like to praise the Italian authorities and Italians for all they have done to improve their systems over that last two years." In regard to the infraction procedure opened last December against Italy concerning its fingerprinting of new arrivals, Avramopoulos said he hoped for a positive outcome. "We have re-evaluated the whole matter and, given that Italy has now improved the system, I can say that this new evaluation will soon give results," he said.

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