09 November, 2007
The extension of the Schengen Zone to the eight new member-states of central and eastern Europe and Malta, as of December 21, 2007, as well as the strategy on the common handling of illegal immigration in the European Union were the main issues examined by the EU's Council of Justice and Interior Ministers that convened here on Thursday.
Greece was represented at the Council by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis.
The EU's 27 Justice and interior ministers decided that the eight new member-states of central and eastern Europe and Malta fulfill preconditions to join the Schengen Zone.
The Council decided that as of December 21, 2007, checks will be abolished on the land and sea borders of these countries, while as of March 30, 2008, checks at airports will be abolished.
On the question of tackling illegal immigration, the Greek interior minister said that "it is an encouraging fact that joint efforts have been made in the framework of the EU over the past few years."
Source: Athens News Agency