France mulls temporary border control option

PARIS - France wants to make it easier to set up temporary border controls with its European Union partners to try and prevent an influx of migrants from North Africa, a source close to the presidency said on Friday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sun 24 Apr 2011, 1:24 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:55 PM

“It seems to us that we need to think about a mechanism that would allow us, when there is a systematic disruption at one of the EU’s external borders, to intervene with a temporary suspension for as long as the disruption lasts,” the source close to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office told Reuters.

France recently shut its borders to trains carrying African migrants from Italy, triggering a dispute between the two governments, with Italy accusing its neighbour of overstepping the European Union’s Schengen treaty on border-free travel.

The European Commission has said the move was legal.

The source said France now wanted to boost the treaty’s existing provision for suspending border-free travel for exceptional security reasons.

The Schengen area comprises 25 countries, 22 of them EU members. It has border controls on entering and leaving the area, but none on travel within it.

The treaty already allows member countries to temporarily reinstate border controls if deemed necessary for security reasons, such as big sporting events like the Olympic Games or to address temporary threats.

As interior minister in 2005, Sarkozy reintroduced border controls after the July 7 suicide bombings on London’s transport network which killed 52 people, in addition to the bombers.

Sarkozy is due to address the problem of migrants entering France through Italy when he meets Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday in Rome.

The French president particularly wants to discuss how to improve cooperation on illegal immigration and boost the European Union’s Frontex border agency, the source said.



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