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Hollande warns against 'dangers' facing Schengen

18 september 2015, 15:20

French President Francois Hollande warned Thursday that a failure to resolve the refugee crisis would put the borderless Schengen zone "in danger", AFP reports.

The EU is scrambling to resolve the continent's worst refugee crisis since World War II, which has seen Germany, Austria and Slovakia reimpose border checks in a blow to the Schengen agreement, which allows borderless travel between some member states.

In an interview with AFP Hollande said Schengen would be under threat if there were no "registration centres to distinguish refugees from economic migrants and ensure the sharing out of asylum seekers."

He added that if there were no controls at the EU's external borders, "states will restore national borders in one way or another."

"We will be obliged to re-establish border posts, controls ... and it will be the end of Schengen in the sense of a controlled space that allows freedom of movement," said the president.

He said the European Union was also at risk as members battled to agree on how to share out some 120,000 refugees to relieve the burden on Italy, Greece and Hungary, which are buckling under the daily arrivals in their countries.

Hollande said the real challenge would come if member states refused to apply EU-imposed quotas on how many refugees they should accept.

"How do we impose this? Withdrawing subsidies or imposing sanctions ... would mean the countries would pay for not housing refugees.

"By being even more restrictive, the risk would be to reduce the Schengen zone to a few countries. That is where Europe could be in danger."

While most EU members are in favour of the quota plan, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic fiercely oppose any mandatory relocation scheme.

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