Freedom to move within Europe’s Schengen area is in for some modification, under French and Italian proposals.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Nicolas Sarkozy have also said they want to reinforce the European Union’s external border control agency, Frontex. The moves are aimed at easing tensions over immigration from North Africa.
At a bilateral summit in Rome, Berlusconi said: “We talked about Schengen. We don’t want it jeopardised, but under exceptional circumstances we both believe the treaty must be modified. We’ve agreed to work on this together.”
“We want Schengen to live,” the French president said, “but for Schengen to live it must be reformed.”
Concerned about migration control, France had been saying it wants to re-examine the safeguard clauses in the 25-country agreement on Europe’s Schengen internal borders-free area, which permits people to travel without passport checks.
At Ventimiglia train station, the last on the Italian side before the cross-over to France, some of the Tunisian migrants who have been given travel documents by the authorities in Rome, also brandished train tickets paid by the state: face value 120 euros, one-way.
This is in an effort not to have too many of the migrants stuck in Rome, on their quest northward to their desired destinations in France, where many have family.
The two countries’ leaders said they had called on the president of the European Commission to ask for greater collaboration among all the EU states with those in the south of the European Union.