- FRANCE and Italy have threatened to tear up the open-borders mandate that has been the European Union’s signature accomplishment for 16 years.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is holding emergency talks in Rome on Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after a row over an influx of Tunisian refugees into Europe threatened to spiral out of control and lead to the reintroduction of French border controls.
Mr Berlusconi’s decision to give more than 25,000 Tunisian refugees residence permits – allowing them to travel through Europe – has caused the worst border crisis since EU countries signed the 1995 Schengen Treaty.
Mr Sarkozy sparked a major diplomatic incident last week after closing the rail border with Italy at Ventimiglia.
The French have criticised the ‘’flawed’’ EU rules that let Tunisian migrants into France and (barred) trains carrying them, saying they fear disturbances to public order…
France has accused Italy of encouraging the Arab migrants – who are mainly French-speaking – to travel on to France with the permits.
Periodic border checks with Italy have been reinstated and several hundred Tunisians, bearing the residence permits, have been sent back to Italy.
Mr Berlusconi has argued that he gave the Tunisians permits after the EU refused to activate a refugee burden-sharing scheme when Italy faced an influx of Arabs fleeing recent regional conflicts.Â
Now imagine if giant Egypt indeed falls to the Islamists. Or if the killings worsen in Syria, a former French mandate….