• France's news in English

France, Italy violated 'spirit' of border-free Europe: EU

AFP · 26 Jul 2011, 06:54

Published: 26 Jul 2011 12:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Jul 2011 06:54 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Moves by France and Italy to curb the flow of Arab Spring migrants this year violated the spirit, but not the rules, of Europe's border-free Schengen area, the European Commission said on Monday.

After examining action taken in April by Rome and Paris to stem a feared tide of largely Tunisian migrants, the EU's executive arm said that while neither nation had breached European regulations, both had placed "increasing strain" on the 25-nation passport-free area.

"From a formal point of view, steps taken by Italian and French authorities have been in compliance with EU law. However, I regret that the spirit of the Schengen rules has not been fully respected," said Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.

Faced with a large influx of migrants from North Africa, many desperate to get to France, Italy unilaterally issued 25,000 Tunisians with temporary residence papers enabling them to move freely within the Schengen area.

France responded by stopping trains from Italy carrying immigrants, citing risks to public order.

Malmstroem said "police checks carried out by French authorities remained within the limits compatible with the Schengen Borders Code", while Italy's decisions to issue residence permits and travel documents "have not been in breach with EU law."

But she said the spat between the two nations highlighted the need to improve the rules governing an area built on trust and confidence.

"Schengen and free movement is one of the most tangible, popular and successful achievements of the European project," she said in a statement.

"We need to ensure a coherent interpretation and a smooth implementation of the Schengen rules, in a spirit of solidarity and mutual trust."

In late June, EU nations tasked Brussels with setting down criteria under which Schengen members could resume border checks in the event of a spike in migration such as that seen in France and Italy since the Arab Spring.

The European Commission is to deliver its findings in September.

Story continues below…

Currently, Schengen nations are up in arms over Denmark's deployment early this month of customs officers at its borders with Germany and Sweden.

The Scandinavian country argues random checks are in line with Schengen and that their aim is to combat the smuggling of illegal goods and drugs, not to control travellers.

The European Commission has warned however that Copenhagen failed to justify the move and is to deliver a verdict on whether Denmark is in breach after the summer break.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available