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France and Italy get backing for changes to EU border rules
Date 30/04/2011 05:37  Author webmaster  Hits 1083  Language Global
30 APR 2011

By Honor Mahony

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Several member states have indicated they are prepared to back attempts by France and Italy to make it easier for countries to re-instate border controls, following an influx of migrants from north Africa.

Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Malta have all given their blessing to Paris and Rome's call for adjustments to be made to the Schengen Agreement on passport-free travel within most of the EU, while underlining the importance of an "open Europe".

"If you can improve the Schengen system then that is good and you should," German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday, reports AFP. "But travel freedom in Europe is such an important achievement that it should not be up for renegotiation."

In a parliamentary debate, Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers said: "I will resist those who call for simply re-instating border controls, for that goes against an open Europe, but I welcome the debate on how to strengthen and improve the Schengen rules to combat illegal immigration, especially in these times of turmoil. "

Malta and Greece stressed the need for other member states to show 'solidarity' with southern rim EU countries. The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is often a first port-of-call for migrants from Africa while Greece is struggling to secure its border with Turkey.

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