[lg policy] France and Italy to hold talks on migration dispute

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 20 14:26:43 UTC 2011

France and Italy to hold talks on migration row
By Toby Vogel
20.04.2011 / 05:19 CET

France stops trains coming from Italy and split develops over Romania and
Bulgaria Schengen bid.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, the leaders of France and Italy, will
meet in Rome on Tuesday (26 April) to discuss a dispute over migrants from
Tunisia that has caused severe disruption to the smooth operation of the
European Union's area of borderless travel.

On Sunday (17 April), French border-guards prevented trains entering France
from Italy. They said they were attempting to stop the entry of Tunisians,
whom the Italian authorities had given temporary residency papers valid from
Saturday (16 April). Italy took the action after complaining in previous
weeks that it was being forced to cope on its own with an influx of migrants
across the Mediterranean.

The European Commission said that France's action was permissible under the
rules of the EU's Schengen area of borderless travel as long as no
permanent, systematic border-checks were imposed, though the rules are very
much open to interpretation. The French authorities described their step as
“a temporary public-order measure”.
Schengen concern

The threat of large-scale migration from north Africa – the subject of an
extraordinary meeting of EU interior ministers scheduled for 12 May – has
complicated a bid by Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area. Once
the two countries become members of the Schengen area, migrants would
encounter no systematic border checks between Greece – the major entry point
of illegal migrants to the EU last year – and the countries of western

That prospect has made many member states nervous, and a group led by France
and Germany has blocked Bulgaria and Romania from joining Schengen. “The
dispute with Italy is not taking the debate on Schengen in the right
direction,” an EU diplomat said.

The European Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs
committee will vote on Bulgaria and Romania's applications to join the
Schengen area on 2 May and MEPs are expected to vote in favour.

According to a Parliament official, their vote is intended as a “signal” to
the blocking member states. The full Parliament is scheduled to vote on the
matter in plenary in the first week of June, immediately before national
interior ministers discuss the matter on 9-10 June.

The Parliament's opinion is not binding on the ministers, who will be
considering findings by an expert group that the two countries meet all
technical conditions for entering the Schengen area.

“This will force France, Germany and the others which are blocking to come
out in the open and explain their reasoning,” the diplomat said.

Carlos Coelho, a Portuguese centre-right MEP, who has drafted a report on
behalf of the civil liberties committee, said: “Although there are some
outstanding issues that will require regular reporting and a follow-up at
some point in the future, they do not constitute an obstacle to full
membership [in the Schengen area] of these two member states.”

The report acknowledges that Bulgaria's border with Greece and Turkey is
among the “most sensitive” stretches of the EU's external border and asks
for the three countries to adopt a “joint approach” to prepare for an
increase in migration.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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