Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission
The Commission is concerned about the flow of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean region, especially into Greece, and has put in place a comprehensive strategy to tackle this problem. It is important to enhance the current Frontex operations at the Greek/Turkish border and to continue to assist Greece in building an effective border management system, including as regards the return of irregular migrants, while at the same time encouraging the Turkish authorities to sign the readmission agreement they have negotiated with the EU. The financial and operational assistance being given to Greece and other Mediterranean countries is a practical expression of solidarity among Member States.
In addition to such operational measures, the Commission has proposed legislative changes aimed at strengthening the governance of the Schengen area, in particular to ensure the effectiveness of controls at external borders. The proposals include a safeguard clause, to be used only in exceptional circumstances, enabling some controls at internal borders to be temporarily reintroduced, in a coordinated way at the EU level, to provide the time and space for persistent and serious failures by a Member State to be remedied. This would allow the EU to deal effectively with critical situations involving a breakdown in border control in a Member State, while not opening the door to measures that could unduly undermine free movement.
The proposals are currently the subject of discussion in the European Parliament and Council, during the course of which Member States, including France and Germany, are putting forward their views.