Brussels, Belgium. In a move that will not be popular anywhere, the EU has decided that borders within the EU must remain wide open, even if it means individual states will drown in immigrants and collapse from the decision.
Denmark, Austria, Germany and other EU states should lift border controls within six months, the European Commission said on Tuesday, hours after Sweden said it was also planning to end frontier checks.
“The time has come to take the last concrete steps to gradually return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area,” EU leader Dimitric Avramopulos said of the policy that previously allowed countries inside the EU to contain the illegal invasion of refugees and migrants flooding Europe from the Middle East and Africa.
“Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of the European project. We must do everything to … protect it,” Avramopoulos said in a speech.
More than a million people sought asylum in Europe’s rich north in 2015, mostly in Germany but also in large numbers in Sweden, straining the capacity of countries to cope and causing others like the United Kingdom to leave the EU completely.
There is a costly EU agreement with Turkey to stop Syrian refugees from reaching Greece and the overland route to Germany, in return for EU funds, this has reduced flows, although thousands of migrants still try to reach Europe from Libya via sea routes.
Germany had argued it needs the controls despite the fall in migrants coming through Greece and the Western Balkans to combat the threat of Islamic militancy in Europe, but now they will have to embrace the diversity and deal with the collateral damage of an open borders policy.