Migrant problem not affecting Schengen visa for Indians: EU envoy

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 16, 2015 18:29 IST
A Syrian migrant boy still wearing a swimming ring stands on the beach upon his arrival with other migrants by a dinghy at the southeastern Greek island of Kos, Greece. (AP)

Indian access to the European Union under the Schengen visa programme will not be affected by the Syrian migrant crisis, EU Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski said on Wednesday.

Instead, New Delhi and Brussels have been holding talks on how to facilitate Indian travel to the EU.

The EU has been debating changes to the Schengen visa programme after its external border controls collapsed when hundreds of thousands of Syrian and African refugees came over land to Germany and Sweden in the past few months.

Kozlowski said the problem of migrants has led EU member-states to find ways to improve border controls and reform the legal framework whereby refugees are handled.

The Schengen agreement, which abolished internal borders within EU member-states, is one of the union’s most important achievements and the only debate is how to improve it, he said. There are no plans to abolish it.

When it comes to India, he said, “I don’t see any problems there at all, in fact quite the opposite.”

Under a common agenda on migration and mobility, the India and the EU have been holding talks on how to facilitate legal migration. The agenda has focused on making legal migration easier, illegal migration more difficult and how the two sides can work against human trafficking.

“The Indian side is expected to come back with their proposals on the issue in a few weeks,” Kozlowski said. “Both sides are ready to have an agreement on facilitating migration between the EU and India.”

On other issues, the envoy said the case of two Italian Marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 had been referred by India and Italy to international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and “we look forward to a timely solution in accordance with UNCLOS”.

Asked about a proposed ban on large diesel vehicles in Delhi, Kozlowski said, “The EU is in favour of internal regulations by India regarding pollution and emissions. We have strict rules in Europe as well and they are often unpopular with the car industry.”

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