The European Union has adopted new rules to tighten checks at EU borders to the outside world to better track people who might have travelled to fight in war zones like Syria or Iraq.
The rules adopted Tuesday oblige EU countries to check everyone leaving or arriving in the bloc against customs, crime and visa databases. Until now, EU nationals have been exempt from such ID checks.
Malta’s interior minister Carmelo Abela, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said they will help “address potential risks to internal security, including that posed by foreign terrorist fighter returnees.”
Fears that foreign fighters might return and create havoc in Europe have grown acute since the Iraqi government-led attack on the Islamic State group stronghold in the northern city of Mosul.
Hungary Takes Steps to Stem Refugee Flow
Hungary’s prime minister says migrants are keeping his country “under siege” and he expects the current lull in the migrant flow to be temporary.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, has ordered the reinforcement of fences on Hungary’s southern borders to keep out migrants. Orban says the migrants, many of whom are Muslims, are a threat to Europe’s Christian identity and culture.
Speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for a new group of border guards known locally as “border hunters,” Orban said that Hungary could only count on itself for protection.
While Orban attended the ceremony, lawmakers from his governing Fidesz party approved new rules which further limit the rights of asylum-seekers and give police more power to send migrants back to Serbia.
EU Court Rules Against Asylum Seekers
Europe’s top court has ruled that European Union member states aren’t obliged to grant humanitarian visas to people who want to enter their territory to apply for asylum.
The decision announced Tuesday came after a Belgian court in October ordered the government to give humanitarian visas to a family in war-torn Syria.
The European Court of Justice has ruled that allowing people to choose where to get international protection would undermine the EU system establishing which country should handle asylum applications.
But the Luxembourg-based court said member state courts remain free to grant the visas under national law.
Friends in Belgium had offered to lodge and feed the family, believed still to be in Syria. The government fears that granting visas would open the floodgates to more applications.