• Sarkozy wants to scrap the EU's border free pact (Photo: wfbakker2)

Sarkozy wants to scrap EU border-free agreement

22.05.14 @ 09:29

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - Former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy in an op-ed published in Le Point and Die Welt on Thursday (22 May) recommends putting an end to the border free Schengen agreement.

The conservative politician says a 'Schengen II' should replace the EU's internal open-border system. The new version would be reserved exclusively for member states with like-minded policies on immigration.

"It is necessary to immediately suspend Schengen I and replace it by a Schengen II in which members can only join after having beforehand adopted the same politics on immigration," he writes.

France, along with Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, were the first to begin the process of removing internal borders in 1985.

The pact has since expanded to almost every EU member state and allows people to circulate freely inside the EU without being subject to border check controls.

Sarkozy's version of the Schengen, he says, would prevent people from moving to other member states with the sole intention of living off welfare.

"If we don't react rapidly in the years to come, then it is our 'social pact' which will explode," he says.

Around 14 million EU citizens live in a host member state. The majority are employed or live in households with someone who is, according to the European Commission.

An advocate general at the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice on Wednesday in an opinion also noted countries are entitled to reject unfounded benefit claims.

The advocate general said a member state can reject "social security benefits for jobseekers who are in need of assistance" if the person had gone to the country solely to claim benefits.

Every EU citizen has the right to reside on the territory of another EU country for up to three months without any conditions or formalities.

But existing EU laws also entitle member states to expel any EU national who becomes an "unreasonable financial burden".

Earlier this year, Euronews reported Belgian authorities had sent expulsion letters to 2,712 EU citizens for being an unreasonable burden on its welfare system.

The European Commission, for its part, sees Schengen as one the EU's greatest achievements, which "goes to the heart of Union citizenship".

Sarkozy also took a swipe at the EU.

He says at least half of the EU's current competence in policy and decision-making should be stripped and that the commission should no longer have the right of legislative initiative.

"The commission should no longer have any legislative competences since there is a European Parliament, it and only it can legislate," he said.

The former president also recommended setting up a Franco-German economic pact, which would in turn govern the 18 members of the euro zone.