11 MAY 2011
EurActiv (Schengen reform is not 'knee-jerk' reaction
Seeking to strike a balance between France and Italy's calls for border controls within the Schengen border-free area to be reintroduced on demand and federalist views, according to which such a move would undermine the EU, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso admitted that such checks could be reinstated as "a last resort".
Facing an angry European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday (10 May), Barroso insisted that recent proposals tabled by the Commission to improve the governance of the Schengen zone (see 'Background') had not been produced under pressure from France and Italy. According to him, they had been planned last year, well before the recent spate of arrivals of refugees from Northern Africa.
But he immediately added that in view of the present circumstances, the EU "urgently" needed to reinforce governance of Schengen and the bloc's external borders.
"Reintroducing border controls is not a desirable development for Europe, neither in the current circumstances, nor for the future challenges that we will face sooner or later. It should be an absolute last resort," Barroso said.
"This is not a knee-jerk reaction. This is not an improvisation," he insisted.
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