January 14, 2016 / 6:21 PM / in 4 years

EU's passport-free travel crucial for euro economic cooperation

Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union in Strasbourg, France, December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Keeping Europe’s passport-free travel zone, the Schengen area, is crucial to the economic well-being of the single currency area, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters on Thursday.

Asked to explain the link between passport free travel and the euro, made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Dijsselbloem said maintaining Schengen was crucial for the political ideal of Europe and its open borders.

“It is crucial for the economic cooperation and development of Europe,” he said. “To establish that we need to protect our outside borders and do that very quickly, we need to work closely with Turkey,” he said.

“What is happening now, is that more and more member states are individually taking measures at their borders, in their asylum procedures, etc. We have to be very careful — this is going to be a negative spiral going down and down and down. I don’t’ want that,” Dijsselbloem said.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Francesco Guarascio

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