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Italy and France Seeker Tighter Border Controls

By Amara El-Haj
The Digest, Associate Editor

Tuesday, April 26, 2011, Italy and France championed for new changes in the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Agreement, in place since 1985, grants free passage across national borders in the majority of Western Europe. The Agreement allowed for twenty-­‐five European Union member nations to dismantle border controls for both their own citizens and citizens of other counties. Italy and France have been trying to find a way to control the recent influx of undocumented migrants from North Africa.

The countries appealed in a joint letter to the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, asking him to “examine the possibility of temporarily establishing internal border controls in the case of exceptional difficulties in handling common external borders, on the basis of conditions to be defined in the future.’

Analysts have shared with The New York Times that it is highly unlike the European Union would revise the Schengen agreement, arguing instead that the joint request is seeking to reduce political tensions between and within the two countries.

Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi joined President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in a recent news conference to further discuss the issue. Mr. Berlusconi said, “Neither of us wants to deny Schengen, but in exceptional circumstances, we think there should be variations to the Schengen treaty.

France and Italy also asked the European Union to widen the role of its agency, Frontex, to allow the agency to repatriate illegal immigrants and further revise regulations for immigrants from third countries. The current regulations force the country in which the immigrants first arrive to be responsible for determining their status.

Recently, Italy has been issuing Tunisians travel papers, allowing them to leave Italy for France. France, not pleased with Italy contributing to the flooding of its borders has made efforts to hinder entry to these new migrants.

France, is currently also trying to oust Col. Muammar el-­‐Qaddafi from Libya, a former Italian colony. Italy has not yet joined France on this front, choosing to not get involved in the current turmoil within Libya.

For more information, please see:

The New York, “French and Italian Leaders Seek Tighter Controls on Migration,” 26 Apr. 2011.