MP says Schengen is "almost ruined"

"The border cooperation between European countries, the so-called Schengen Area, is in chaos. It is not only in chaos, it is almost ruined," Karl Garðarsson, MP for the governing Progressive Party ('Framsóknarflokkurinn'), said in the Icelandic parliament on Tuesday. Garðarsson was referring to the situation which has emerged over the past months where thousands of migrants have entered the European Union after breaching the Schengen Area's external borders.

Iceland is part of the Schengen Area along with its three EFTA partners, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, and 22 of the EU's 28 member states.

"The current situation means that every day thousands of people pour into the Schengen Area without visas and often with forged papers. Many of these people are escaping war and we are obliged to help them if only for humanitarian reasons. Others are using the situation for economic purposes. They want a better life in western countries, higher salaries, better welfare schemes, etc.," Garðarsson added pointing to Eurostat numbers that only 21% of people seeking asylum in EU countries were from Syria. The rest from other countries.

"I think it is great to be able to travel within the Schengen Area without special border controls. The border checks on the external borders are, however, simply useless. The migrant crisis is far from being over and will not be over for years to come. Everyone knows that. So why don't we start a real debate about Schengen instead of postponing the problems until everything will be ruined?" Garðarsson furthermore said echoing Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson who said in September that it was difficult to see how the Schengen Area would survive the migrant crisis without better agreement on what to do and how to proceed.

"This naturally raises very big questions about the Schengen Area when countries are not even checking people into the area anymore, " Gunnlaugsson said to a local radio station. "Then the idea which the cooperation is based on, these external borders, then it has collapsed." Reacting to Gunnlaugsson's comments former Minister of Justice, Björn Bjarnason who was responsible for the Schengen portfolio while in office, wrote on his website: "Since it is not possible any longer to defend Schengen's external borders the cooperation is in shatters."

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