Fortress Britain? EU open borders policy under threat after Paris terror attacks
Home Secretary Theresa May has called on Europe to tighten external border security to prevent terrorists sneaking in. The future of the open borders policy is in doubt after it emerged terrorists may have entered the EU posing as Syrian refugees.
Robust security measures have been introduced in the wake of the Paris attacks that left more than 120 people dead and hundreds more injured on Friday evening.
Prime Minister David Cameron said there will be a “step change” in the UK’s battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), adding he will recruit almost 2,000 extra spies.
The British government has warned holidaymakers returning from France to expect to have their vehicles searched. This comes amid fears jihadists may use the route to smuggle fighters and weaponry into the UK.
More British troops will be on standby in case a Paris-style terror attack happens in the UK, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Figures from the Home Office counter terrorism unit show 700 Britons have traveled to Syria to join IS and as many as 450 have returned.
‘Open borders policy can’t continue’
The Paris attacks and the ongoing refugee crisis have left the future of the open borders policy in doubt.
Hours after Friday’s attacks, investigators discovered two of the terrorists involved in the attack may have entered Europe posing as refugees.
It is believed Europe’s open borders agreement, which allows passport-free travel between member states, made it easier for the terrorists to smuggle their way into the EU.
Critics have since called for tougher measures to control the flow of refugees arriving in the EU from the Middle East and North Africa.
France is expected to call for a suspension of the Schengen Agreement on open borders across Europe within the next couple of days, according to the Telegraph.
One source told the paper France will “push hard” for other European countries to institute border controls.
“The French are going to push hard for everyone else to institute border controls, particularly Belgium, but across the wider Euro area. To all intents and purposes it will be a temporary suspension of Schengen,” they said.
The Schengen open-borders area has already been temporarily suspended in some EU countries in a bid to monitor the flow of migrants and refugees across the continent.
The travel zone involves 30 counties, some of which are not in the EU.
‘No need to review borders policy’
However, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said there is no link between open borders and the terror attacks in Paris.
“No need to review the whole European refugee policy,” he said when addressing G20 leaders in Turkey.
“The one who is responsible for the attacks in Paris cannot be put on an equal footing with real refugees, with asylum seekers and with displaced people,” he added.
By contrast, Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder told the Mail Online: “The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can’t continue just like that. Paris changes everything.”
British Home Secretary Theresa May said all refugees will be screened by the UN refugee agency before going through further checks by UK authorities to ensure no terrorists get through.
Commenting on the crisis, French Ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann said it is “obvious” Europe needs to strengthen security in its external borders.
“It is really a war because they are trying to kill us. We have already prevented a lot of attacks but it can't be 100 percent,” she told the Financial Times.