EU proposes mechanism to suspend visa-free regime

The European Commission proposed on Monday a mechanism that would allow the EU to suspend the visa-free regime for certain states under “exceptional” circumstances.

The Commission proposed the “safeguard clause”, which will go to EU ministers for discussion in June, in the wake of growing pressure on Macedonia and Serbia to stem the flow of asylum seekers into Europe that began after the countries were granted visa free travel in December 2009.

The mechanism was announced by Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem on Tuesday, and the Commissioner took care to reiterate several times on Tuesday that the mechanism would only be used as a very last resort to combate abuse of the visa-free regime, after all other efforts had failed.

“Such a mechanism would provide the EU with a tool, to be used only in exceptional circumstances, for off-setting any possible serious adverse consequences of visa liberalisation, and in particular the arrival in the EU of a large number of irregular migrants or asylum seekers whose claims are not well-founded,” the Commission said in a statement.

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