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 is supporting the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to tackle this problem. In particular, it is important to maintain the high intensity of the current Frontex operations at the Greek/Turkish border, and to continue to provide financial and operational assistance to Greece in building an effective border management system, including the return of irregular migrants. The rapid conclusion of the readmission agreement, which has recently been initialled by the EU and Turkey, will also make an important contribution to improving the situation.
The Commission has, moreover, proposed legislative changes aimed at strengthening the governance of the Schengen area, in particular to ensure the effectiveness of the control of its external borders. The proposed changes would include a safeguard clause, to be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, enabling some internal border controls to be temporarily reintroduced, in a coordinated way at the EU level, to provide the time and space for the 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 external border control by a Member State, but would not result in the exclusion or suspension of any Member State from the Schengen area. This proposal is currently the subject of negotiations in the European Parliament and the Council.