Lithuania has proposed changing the existing EU migration rules to legalise pushbacks of irregular migrants when an extreme situation is declared in a country, Lithuanian Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said on Tuesday.
"In such situations when there's an extreme situation and illegal migrants are being used as an instrument to put pressure on countries, countries have the right to make such decisions [like] the ones we have made in our national law, ie to prevent illegal entrance,” Bilotaitė said.
Migrants may enter the country “only legally via border checkpoints or other designated places," she said.
"Yes, this measure should be legalised but, I want to stress, only under an extreme situation," the minister added when asked whether she meant migrants pushbacks on the border.
The EU rules also "should include an understanding that physical barriers are a necessary measure", according to Bilotaitė.
"Currently, European institutions only support the introduction of border surveillance systems, and there's no word about any physical barrier. And physical barriers, as a measure, need to be made mandatory and built, if necessary. Second, they should be funded from European funds as it's not only a problem of individual member states," the minister said.
These proposals will be presented during a meeting of EU home affairs ministers in October. Lithuania will also seek to build a coalition of member states in favour of changing the bloc’s migration rules.