Position:Jose Manuel Barroso

The European Commission's president has made a point of responding publicly to the Franco-German letter of 26 April calling on the EU to broaden the criteria for temporary restoration of controls at national borders in the Schengen area "in case of exceptional difficulties". Jose Manuel Barroso mentions this as one "possibility among others," while warning against a vision of immigration based "excessively on law and order".

France has a precise idea of what it would like to see in the Commission's communication of 4 May on governance of the Schengen area, and subsequently in the legislative proposals announced in President Barroso's letter of 29 April. Paris finds that existing safeguard clauses' authorising the re-establishment of border controls in "cases of serious threat to law and order or internal security" are too strict. It would like to see them extended to two criteria: the failure of a peripheral member state to monitor its borders, such as Greece on its border with Turkey, and the massive influx of illegal migrants. France and Germany nevertheless agree that the 25,000 or so Tunisian migrants who have flooded into Italy for economic reasons do not constitute a massive influx. Berlin would not like to see any lessening of the responsibility of the Schengen peripheral states for border surveillance on behalf of all the others. "These safeguard clauses must be an incentive to oblige these countries to be stricter and more demanding," observed a diplomat, "but they will exist largely not to be used".

At this stage, Barroso does not associate the temporary restoration of borders with immigration. He simply states that the "temporary restoration of borders" must be "governed by specific and well-determined criteria" still to be detailed. Paris and Berlin have been working for some time on a mechanism for temporary restoration of border controls in the event of a failure of a Schengen country. They may propose a common position in...

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