French police removing a Balkan Roma Camp. (file photo)
Seven EU states have all demanded a reinstatement of visa requirements for Balkans citizens in order to control the mounting asylum requests.
Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden made the demand on Thursday at a meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg.
"These people do not have the right of asylum, they are leaving their country for economic reasons", said Swedish Interior Minister Tobias Billstroem.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom proclaimed that abuse of the asylum system had been "increasing considerably" since Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia were given visa-free status to the Schengen area in 2010.
"I am thinking in particular of the situation in Syria, in Afghanistan. It is unacceptable that we should have two times as many asylum applicants from Serbia as from Afghanistan," stated Ole Schroeder, Germany's secretary of state.
Many of the Balkans asylum-seekers are from the discriminated and social-excluded Muslim Roma traveler community, who claim repressive treatment from the authorities in their home countries. Observers believe that their migration is only seasonal, seeking a heated indoor shelter during the harsh winter months in the Balkans.
The EU Commission and the European Parliament are discussing a safeguard clause to allow a member state to ask for a temporary suspension of the free visa status and the discussion is planned to continue until the end of this year.
While EU is debating an exclusion of the Balkans states, they will also be discussing an accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen bloc.
Bulgaria and Romania is home to a large non-Muslim Roma population.