World View: EU Migrant Crisis Moves to Italy as Austria Begins Closing Border

This morning’s key headlines from

  • EU threatens to impose travel restrictions on US/Canada visitors
  • EU migrant crisis moves to Italy as Austria begins closing border
  • Austria begins construction on border controls with Italy

EU threatens to impose travel restrictions on US/Canada visitors

An Iraqi Yazidi girl waves from a bus as she and her family leave the Idomeni refugee camp and head for another camp in Greece on Tuesday (AP)
An Iraqi Yazidi girl waves from a bus as she and her family leave the Idomeni refugee camp and head for another camp in Greece on Tuesday (AP)

The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday asked the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to consider imposing travel restrictions on visitors from the United States and Canada. The EC had to make the request, because it was required to do so under European Union regulations.

Most EU citizens can visit the United States with no visa requirements. And US citizens can visit most of Europe with no visa requirements. But the United States requires visas from citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. Because of this requirement, the EC is required under its own regulations to pursue a reciprocal regime.

Under those regulations, the EC 24 months ago issued a formal notice to the US State Dept. asking that the visa requirements be lifted for those five member states. That notice has now expired, so the EC, under its own regulations, was forced to take the next step on April 12. A similar situation applies to Canada and Brunei.

This issue is caught up in Europe’s security problems. The State Dept. is not likely to agree to reduce any visitor restrictions after the terror attacks on Paris and Brussels. In fact, the US tightened restrictions on all EU countries last year by requiring visas for all dual EU-Syrian nationals or all EU nationals who recently visited Libya.

If the EU goes ahead with its visa restrictions, then starting in October, US citizens would have to obtain visas before traveling to Europe. Many European officials are stridently opposed to imposing the visa requirements, because it would be devastating to Europe’s economy, especially after the US retaliated by imposing its own visa restrictions on Europe. eTurbo Travel News and EU Observer and Canadian Broadcasting

EU migrant crisis moves to Italy as Austria begins closing border

Italy’s Coast Guard, supported by ships from EU’s Frontex organization, rescued 2,154 migrants traveling from Libya on a single day Tuesday. The were found on 16 rubber dinghies and one boat.

In a typical situation, a dinghy is crammed with 100-200 people in Libya and pushed out into the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants are instructed to watch for an Italian coast guard ship and ask for help. In some cases, the migrants purposely sink the dinghy so that the coast guard ship will be forced to take them aboard.

As expected, the warmer weather is causing an increase in the number of migrants who pay human traffickers to cross the Mediterranean to Europe from Libya. Now that the “Balkan Route” from Greece through the Balkans to Germany has been closed, migrants are paying human traffickers to transport them via other routes. Many people think that the hundreds of thousands that have been prevented from taking the Balkan Route will now travel via Libya to Italy.

Meanwhile, there are more than 53,000 migrants are trapped in Greece, many in filthy refugee camps, and the process of returning them to Turkey is floundering. ( “9-Apr-16 World View — Legal problems and Erdogan’s threats may collapse EU-Turkey migrant deal”)

Things have been going so slowly in Greece that the European Commission is issuing a threat to Greece to report how it plans to tightenc control of its border, or be shut out of the visa-free Schengen Zone. AP and Kathimerini

Austria begins construction on border controls with Italy

Fearing a massive influx of migrants from Italy, Austria has begun construction work at the Brenner Pass Alpine crossing, the main highway that connects Italy and Austria. Austria will introduce tougher border controls starting on June 1 at the latest. There are no plans right now to build a border fence, but that could change if the stream of migrants becomes large enough.

The Austrian plans are raising objections among EU leaders.

Natasha Bertaud, a spokesman for the European Commission said: “The Commission is very concerned. If these plans were to materialize then we would have to look at them very seriously. The Brenner Pass is essential for the freedom of movement within the European Union.”

Alev Korun, member of the Austrian Parliament and spokesman for the Green Alternative party, said: “We are against the militarization of borders and the building of fences on the borders. Nationalistic measures like these only speed up de-solidarization within the EU.” Euro News and Independent (London) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, European Commission, Canada, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Romania, Italy, Austria, Brenner Pass, Libya, Greece, Balkan Route, Schengen Zone, Natasha Bertaud, Alev Korun
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