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Schengen zone

Switzerland wants to help EU strengthen border controls

The Swiss government has proposed sending 16 border control guards to the European Union’s rapid response border control unit. As a result, Switzerland’s financial contribution will rise from CHF5 million (€4.6 million) in 2015 to an estimated CHF14.2 million by 2020.

The strengthened border controls have arisen from the growing influx of refugees from war-torn zones in the Middle East and Africa. Between January and November last year some 1.5 million people illegally crossed borders into Europe.

Fearing the reintroduction of national border restrictions and the collapse of the Schengen zone, the EU decided to beef up its border agency Frontex with a mobile unit to deal with flash points. The Swiss government wants to commit 16 border guards to the unit, and put this proposal out for consultation on Wednesday.

“The Schengen area cannot be maintained as an area without internal borders in the long term unless its external borders are more effectively secured and protected,” the government said in a statement.

Switzerland’s proposed contribution to the rapid reaction pool corresponds to 0.8% of its total border control staff, which is in line with other countries.

The government expects the extra cost to be mitigated by a reduction in the number of illegal immigrants it has to process and deport.

Switzerland had previously agreed to take part in the EU’s Relocation programme by accepting 1,500 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. The first tranches of asylum seekers have arrived as the Swiss contribute to the emergency plan to ease the burden of migrants from countries at the southern fringes of the EU.

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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