In the wake of Islamist militants killing eight people in Paris, Nice and Vienna within a month, France and Germany are now calling for tighter controls at EU borders.
The most recent attacks have all been carried out by terrorists who were able to move freely between the 26 Schengen Zone countries, which include most EU members plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
During a videoconference with other European leaders on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “The threat of terrorism weighs on all of Europe. We must respond.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who threw open European borders in 2015, allowing unrestricted and unmonitored entry to thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa now says the borders need fixing. “It is vitally important to know who comes in and who leaves the Schengen area,” she said.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for a more coordinated plan for dealing with foreign militants while Dutch premier Rutte emphasised stopping “undesirable” foreign financing as a further way to tackle extremism.
Other ideas put forward include imposing stricter requirements on social media to combat extremism, setting up a special European institute to train Muslim imams, and being able to effectively deport migrants with no legal claim to asylum in Europe as well as suspected extremists.
The EU’s top migration official, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, told the conference, “We need to manage migration, but migration by itself is not a security threat. There might be individuals who are dangerous among migrants but also among people who already live here.”