French President to reinstate passport checks if EU borders not tightened

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to reinstate passport checks for all EU citizens arriving in France if EU countries fail to properly secure their borders against illegal immigrants.

Sarkozy mentioned Greece as the main offender when it comes to unsafe borders; He claimed that Greece allows in asylum- seekers to come into the country illegally from Turkey. He said that all EU nations will need to have tightened border security within one year, or else France will pull out of the Schengen Agreement. The agreement allows free travel between 26 countries including France, Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands.

"There are 120 kilometers between Greece and Turkey which are not guarded," said Sarkozy. "I am within my rights to demand what the sanctions should be. I give one year for this practice to change, otherwise we suspend our membership of the Schengen Agreement."

"As it is France which has the most generous welfare benefits, we are the ones most affected by putting these measures into place properly," he added.

"Unchecked immigration thwarts Europe's ability to take in and integrate new entrants and puts strains on social safety nets for the most disadvantaged across the continent," Sarkozy said during an election rally last month. He has claimed that if re-elected, he will reduce immigration to France from 180,000 a year to 100,000 and introduce tighter controls on certain immigrant's access to benefits payments.

The UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement and UK citizens still need a passport to visit France. But any changes would mean re-instating passport checks for all European and non-EU travellers arriving in France.

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