France Mulls Suspending Schengen Free Travel Agreement - Report

Bulgaria in EU | April 23, 2011, Saturday // 14:49|  views

EC spokesperson Mark Gray says the Commission had not been informed about France’s intentions to temporarily suspend its Schengen free-travel agreement. File photo

France is considering suspending the Schengen border-free travel agreement to block a huge rise in migrants from Tunisia and Libya.

According to Euronews, a source close to President Nicolas Sarkozy's office has informed that France wants to make it easier to set up temporary border controls. Sarkozy is due to address the issue when he meets Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on Tuesday.

France has opposed Italy's decision to grant 6-month temporary permits to 20 000 migrants from Tunisia, who arrived in Italy by April 5, on the grounds the permits will allow the migrants to reach and stay with relatives and friends across Europe.

Paris countered, reminding that according to Schengen legislation, there is a rule postulating that the first country the migrants enter is the country which must manage the influx.

French Foreign Minister, Claude Gueant, pointed out Monday foreigners, who have obtained permits from Italy, must show proof they have the financial means to sustain their stay in another European country, and then return home, adding France is going to send back to Italy people who show at the border without such proof.

Last weekend, France closed its borders to trains carrying African migrants from Italy, which became the source of strong arguments between Paris and Rome.

The European Commission stated France's move was legal for security reasons despite the fact the Schengen agreement allows free movement of migrants.

Italy lists the number of migrants from Libya and Tunisia, who arrived following unrest in the two countries, at 26 000.

EC spokesperson Mark Gray says the Commission had not been informed about France's intentions to temporarily suspend its Schengen free-travel agreement, reminding Schengen countries can undertake such move for very short periods of time and on the base of solid reasons.

These reasons are serious threats for public order or national security when border control can be reinstated for 30 days and extended with another 30 if the threats continue.

EC and other Schengen countries must be notified about the motives and the exact actions, checkpoints and dates.

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Tags: Libya, Tunisia, migrants, Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, Sakrozy, Nicolas, Rome, free-travel agreement, Schengen, suspend, France, European Commission, Mark Gray, EC spokesperson, temporary, permits


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