Poland and 15 other EU states say border protection is joint responsibility
The interior ministers of Poland and 15 other EU countries have declared that protecting the EU's borders is a shared responsibility and key to preventing illegal migration.
The statement was contained in a declaration made in Vilnius on Friday at a conference held at the initiative of Poland, Lithuania, Greece and Austria.
"During the European conference on border management held in Vilnius, together with the interior ministers of 15 EU countries, we declared cooperation in the protection of the external borders of the EU and the Schengen area," Mariusz Kamiński, Poland’s interior minister, wrote on Twitter after the meeting.
He also published a joint statement issued at the conference, signed by the interior ministers of Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The statement said "protecting the external borders of the EU and the Schengen area is a shared responsibility" and that "border protection is of key importance for preventing illegal migration, migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and threats to security and public order, as well as for preserving internal stability and social cohesion."
It also said that the security and integrity of the Schengen area must not be compromised.
"An area without internal border controls can only function efficiently if the external borders are protected properly. Determined efforts and additional resources are required for strengthening our resilience to present or future challenges," the statement read.
According to the 16 ministers, the EU has also witnessed illegal migration being used as an instrument to exert political pressure.
"To preclude the possible political instrumentalisation of illegal migration by third parties, we have to reinforce our ability to act preventively and respond quickly, effectively and decisively," they wrote.