Photographer: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

France Asks for Systematic Controls Within Schengen Border Area

  • Latest sign principle of free movement within area is fraying
  • Unfettered travel already under threat from migrant influx

France is asking its partners in the Schengen border union to agree to systematic controls at frontiers within the group to tighten security following terrorist attacks in Paris.

“Coordinated and systemic controls” are needed within the 26 countries of the group, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference Sunday in Paris. We need to “fully use the available European systems” to tighten security, he added, citing the information system, a governmental database used for security and law enforcement.

The demand, to be discussed formally at a meeting of European Union ministers Friday, is the latest sign of the fraying of the principle of the border union that has allowed almost unfettered travel across much of the continent for more than two decades.

Having already tightened controls ahead of the COP 21 climate summit, French President Francois Hollande ordered them increased further as part of a state of emergency declared after 132 people died in the attacks on Friday. 

Slovenia, Austria and Germany have recently suspended the open borders system as thousands of refugees from the Middle East seek entry. Sweden also imposed temporary border controls Thursday for the same reason.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president and leader of France’s main opposition party, is seeking to capitalize on the shifting view of Schengen, reiterating a demand for a full renegotiation of the group’s rules.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is also pressing her long-standing position that “without borders, neither protection nor security are possible.”

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