Leaders of Germany and France have demanded that Europe reform the open-border Schengen area in the light of recent terrorist attacks in Austria and elsewhere on the continent.
“I want to mention the entry-exit system in the Schengen area, which should be ready in 2022,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting with other European leaders on Tuesday in an online summit.
“It is vitally necessary to know who comes in and who leaves the Schengen area.”
“We do not aim to pit Islam against Christianity. We condemn all kinds of religious hate,” she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron too urged a “rapid and coordinated” European response to attacks that have plagued the continent in recent years.
Europe must rethink its open-border Schengen area, he said, adding France is in favour of setting up EU internal security council.
Macron said EU’s response should also focus on “the development of common databases, the exchange of information or the strengthening of criminal policies,” he said after hosting a video conference with fellow EU leaders.
The online summit came a week after a convicted Daesh group supporter killed four people in a shooting rampage in the heart of Vienna, following hot on the heels of last month’s attack on a church in the French city of Nice and the beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb two weeks before that.
READ MORE: More arrests made after Vienna terror attack
Leaders vow determined fight against terrorism
The summit was also attended by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, European Council chief Charles Michel, and EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.
The leaders discussed the need for a “determined fight against terrorist propaganda and hate speech on the internet,” Macron told an online briefing after the meeting.
“The internet is a space of freedom, our social networks too, but this freedom exists only if there is security and if it is not the refuge of those who flout our values or seek to indoctrinate with deadly ideologies,” he said.
In other measures to combat terrorism, Macron last week announced a doubling of the number of French border guards and called for a “deep” revision in the rules for the Schengen area that guarantees the free movement of people across borders.
READ MORE: Digging up the past of the Nice attacker, who killed three French citizens
Discussion about this post