May 2, 2011

Franco-Italian push to partially renationalise border controls

European Commission President

Brussels said on Sunday that national passport controls might be reintroduced across Europe to allow the "temporary" re-erection of borders between 25 countries.

Responding to intense pressure from Italy and France to tighten the no-borders system known as the Schengen regime, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, said he was looking at ways of satisfying the two countries' concerns. Paris and Rome are alarmed at an influx of migrants fleeing revolutionary north Africa.

In a letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Barroso said that the commission would unveil new proposals on Wednesday on immigration policy, common European asylum procedures, and reform of the Schengen system.

The commission's proposals are to go to a summit of EU leaders next month, with France and Italy leading the charge for a partial renationalisation of border controls, a trend the commission would like to resist but looks too weak to counter.

The Franco-Italian push to place greater restrictions on the Schengen regime, launched last week after a furious row between Paris and Rome over refugees from Tunisia, has already won support from a handful of other EU countries, including Germany.

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