SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Germany, France begin fight to close borders

Germany and France began moves this week to reclaim the power to close their borders for up to 30 days, in a simmering battle over immigration in Europe's passport-free Schengen travel zone.

Germany, France begin fight to close borders
Photo: DPA

In a joint letter to the European Union’s Danish chair ahead of talks among interior ministers in Luxembourg on April 26, France’s Claude Guéant and Germany’s Hans-Peter Friedrich say the Schengen set-up, which abolished frontier controls in 1995, needs a radical revamp.

Schengen is an area that is home to 400 million Europeans and covers 25 states. Once inside Schengen illegal immigrants can theoretically move freely between countries, as people passing between the borders of two member states do not have to show identification.

Friedrich and Guéant said that where a government within the area fails to meet its obligations to manage external frontiers – Greece for one is under intense migratory pressures at Europe’s south eastern fringe – partners should have “the possibility, as a last resort, to reintroduce internal frontiers for a period not greater than 30 days.”

Currently, only the European Commission, or EU civil service, can decide short-term emergency blocks on individual frontier pressure-points.

The ministers also insisted that such decisions should not be left to permanent Brussels officials – but be left as the sole preserve of national ministers voting in the European Council of EU member states.

Fighting to hold onto power ahead of Sunday’s first-round election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a rally last month that without “serious progress” on a rewrite of the Schengen treaty over the coming year, that France would leave the group completely.

AFP/jcw

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SPORTS

Germany players cover mouths in protest for World Cup photo

Germany's players covered their mouths for the team photo before their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday in protest at FIFA's refusal to allow rainbow-themed armbands.

Germany players cover mouths in protest for World Cup photo

Captains of seven European teams had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armbands during the tournament in Qatar as part of a campaign for diversity.

But they backed down over the threat of disciplinary action from football’s governing body, including yellow cards.

The rainbow armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Germany’s football federation tweeted in English moments after the photo protest: “It wasn’t about making a political statement — human rights are non-negotiable.

“Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser did wear the “OneLove” armband as she watched the game sitting next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

She said FIFA’s ban was a “huge mistake”.

READ ALSO: German sports minister to attend World Cup amid human rights row

Not only players, but fans should also be allowed to show pro-LGBTQ symbols “openly”, Faeser told reporters in Qatar.

Supporters should “make a decision for themselves” about whether they wanted to wear the symbols, Faeser added.

The German government spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said earlier in the day in Berlin that FIFA’s decision to bar captains from wearing the “OneLove” armbands was “very unfortunate”.

“The rights of LGBTQ people are non-negotiable,” Hebestreit said at a regular press conference.

Security staff at the World Cup have ordered spectators to remove items of clothing featuring rainbow logos.

Underlining tensions at the tournament over the issue, Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen said on Tuesday that he was “afraid” to talk about human rights. Vertonghen, speaking on the eve of Belgium’s opening game against Canada later Wednesday, said he did not feel comfortable.

“I’m afraid if I say something about this I might not be able to play tomorrow,” the defender said.

“It’s an experience I’ve never felt in football before. I feel controlled. I’m afraid to even say something about this.

“We’re just saying normal things about racism and discrimination and if you can’t even say things about it, that says it all.

“I want to appear on the pitch tomorrow, so I’ll leave it at that.”

SHOW COMMENTS