Bloomberg News

Greece Runs Risk of Having to Leave Schengen Area, Minister Says

November 02, 2011

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Greece may have to leave the European Union’s Schengen area amid criticism from other countries that it’s not done enough to stop illegal immigration, Civil Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis said.

“The danger still remains of either the country being ejected or of Greece-Schengen relations being gradually frozen,” Papoutsis told reporters, according to a transcript of his comments posted on the website of the Athens-based Civil Protection Ministry.

Named after a village in Luxembourg near to where it was signed, the Schengen agreement allows for passport-free travel among 22 of the EU’s 27 members as well as Norway, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Iceland and Vatican City.

The Greek government has invested in efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigrants leaving Greece for other European nations, including boosting controls at regional airports where many low-cost air carriers operate and moving to create a National Center for Border Surveillance, Papoutsis said yesterday.

Greece’s land border with Turkey accounted for more than half of the illegal immigration into the EU in the first quarter, according to Warsaw-based Frontex, the bloc’s agency for external border security.

--Editors: Jennifer M. Freedman, Peter Branton

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tugwell in Athens at ptugwell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net


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