Juncker: I did not fight to avoid Greece’s exit from the euro in order to allow its exit from Schengen

Speaking in front of the European Parliament today in preparation of the European Council Meeting of February 18 and 19 2016, Jean-Claude Juncker said it is not the European Commission’s intent to “isolate” Greece because of deficiencies in the handling of refugees and migrants entering the country, as some like to believe. Rather, the aim of the Commission is to help Greece fulfill its obligations in regard to the protection of the Schengen borders.

“I did not fight to avoid Greece’s exit from the euro in order to allow its exit from the Schengen area,” said Junker.

Juncker’s comments come a day after the Commission adopted the Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and proposed recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management.

As stated in a European Commission press release dated February 2, 2016, “The recommendations seek to ensure that Greece applies all Schengen rules related to management of external border correctly and effectively.

Recommendations are made in a number of areas such as the improvement of the registration procedures, including ensuring a sufficient number of staff and fingerprint scanners for registration and verification of migrants and their travel documents against SIS, Interpol and national databases. Greece should provide the necessary facilities for accommodation during the registration process and launch return procedures for irregular migrants who are not seeking asylum and who are not in need of international protection. Border surveillance should be improved, including the establishment of a risk analysis system and increased training of border guards. Improvements should also be made to infrastructure and equipment at the border crossing points.”

Greece has three months to complete the remedial actions. If it fails to do so, the European Commission “may trigger the application of the procedure provided for in Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code.”

As stated in Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code, if an evaluated member state has failed to implement the proposed actions, the Commission may recommend the reintroduction of border controls “at all or at specific parts of their internal borders as a matter of last resort, to protect the common interest of the Schengen area.”