Italy urges EU to prevent collapse of Schengen area

Italian Foreign Minister urges EU to tackle refugee crisis and prevent potential collapse of Schengen

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni speaks during a joint news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias (not pictured) at the ministry in Athens, Greece February 18, 2016.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni urged European Leaders to tackle the Union’s refugee crisis and avert the potential collapse of Schengen area on Thursday ahead of European Summit.

"We anticipate that, albeit belatedly, Europe will multiply its commitments" to resolve the refugee crisis, Gentiloni said during a visit to Athens.

Gentiloni urged countries to avoid actions that could have an "irreversible impact" on the EU and Schengen, saying, "Unilateral actions that will lead to the collapse of the Schengen treaty must be avoided."

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias (R) escorts his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni following their meeting at the ministry in Athens, Greece February 18, 2016.

EU ministers have given Greece three months to fulfill a set of recommendations to bring the influx of refugees under control, otherwise Schengen countries may start to apply border checks for two years.

Some states - including Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - said there should be tighter controls on the borders of Balkan countries, especially the neighbours of Greece, if the number of refugees arriving from Turkey to Greece doesn't fall.

Italy has also been on the frontline of Europe's refugee crisis.

It has agreed to contribute to a 3 billion euro European Union fund to help Turkey tackle the European refugee crisis, dropping objections blocking implementation of the plan.

TRTWorld and agencies