Sarkozy threatens to suspend Schengen agreement

Sarkozy threatens to suspend Schengen agreement

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday lashed out at the European Union's free travel agreement, during an election campaign stop, dpa reported.

Trailing the socialist candidate Francois Hollande in opinion polls, and being squeezed by the National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen on the right, Sarkozy called for a revision of the so-called Schengen agreement, and even threatened France's unilateral suspension of its operation.

Speaking at a rally in front of 30,000 supporters in Veillepinte, outside Paris, Sarkozy warned that if there was no significant progress in combating illegal migration within 12 months, he would suspend the document-free travel agreement.

"There must be a structural reform of Schengen, just as we have for the euro area," Sarkozy said. Migration should not be solely controlled by "technocrats and the courts," he added.

In addition, Sarkozy threatened that other states which cannot fulfill their Schengen obligations "must be sanctioned, suspended or expelled."

Last week Sarkozy also stated he wanted to limit the number of migrants, and their entitlement to benefits, in France.

Schengen forbids the systematic checking of travel documents at internal borders by participating nations within the EU.

The French presidential election first round is on April 22.

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