European Union countries have asked the bloc's executive to prepare for the extension of temporary border controls within the Schengen passport-free travel zone for up to two years, the Dutch migration minister said.

Klaas Dijkhoff said on Monday that the move was necessary as Europe was struggling to control massive waves of asylum seekers arriving from different parts of the world.

"Currently, the temporary border measures can be taken only for a limited period of six months. But the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, which compelled member states to take these measures nationally, have not decreased yet," Dijkhoff, who chaired the EU ministerial meeting in Amsterdam, said.

"So member states invited the [European] Commission to prepare the legal and practical basis for the continuance of temporary border measures through Article 26 of the Schengen border code," he said of the an article that allows to have controls at internal borders in place for up to two years.


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The Schengen zone comprises 26 states, most of which are also EU members. Germany, France, Austria and Sweden are among several countries that have introduced temporary border checks as they struggle to control the flow of people.

On Monday, EU interior ministers urged Greece - the main gateway to Europe for more than a million refugees - to do more to control the external border of the bloc. Some even threatened Athens with expulsion.

Overwhelmed by the influx, Greek law enforcement officials have often let refugees through deeper into Europe rather than keep them on Greek soil for proper registration - the first necessary step agreed by the EU before people can move further.

The EU has taken various steps to give cash-strapped Athens financial assistance to deal with the crisis, but many member states believe Athens is not using that enough. Of five registration "hotspot" centres due to be set up for refugees arriving in Greece, only one is running so far.

Source: Reuters