French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered an ultimatum to the EU on immigration, complete with a threat to suspend the Schengen Agreement that allows passport-free travel among 25 European nations. Sarkozy also said there are too many immigrants in France and that he will halve the number of arrivals to the country if he is re-elected next month.
(Sarkozy is sounding more and more like right wing Front National Marine LePen)
Immigrants are currently entitled to the same benefits as people born in France. Sarkozy said he wants to change the residency rules so immigrants have to have lived in France for a certain number of years before being able to claim social welfare benefits for people on low pay, or pensions.
Around 180,000 people are admitted to France every year – a figure Sarkozy said he will cut to around 100,000, according a report in Le Monde.
Times-Standard For the first time in this campaign, a new poll suggests the long-unpopular president could beat Socialist Francois Hollande in the first round of voting next month. But, like all previous polls, it indicates Hollande would beat the incumbent convincingly in the crucial runoff.
The conservative Sarkozy has shifted visibly to the right in his campaign, calling for a crackdown on immigration and criticizing measures accommodating France’s millions of Muslims. Prior to the campaign, he took significant anti-Muslims steps in banning the burqa as well as banning Muslims from praying in the streets.
Sarkozy Threatens to Exit Schengen Agreement (H/T HenryP)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered a stern ultimatum to the European Union at an election rally Sunday, saying he will withdraw France from the Schengen accords, which allow free circulation within most of the bloc’s borders, unless the E.U. hardens its immigration policy.
The incumbent president also said that if re-elected he will demand EU partners pass a “Buy European Act” similar to the “Buy American Act” adopted by the U.S. in 1933, which required the government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases. Failing significant progress within the year, France will apply the rule unilaterally, he said.
“I want a political Europe that protects its citizens,” Mr. Sarkozy said in the largest rally to date of his campaign, with an estimated 50,000 gathered in a hangar at the Paris fair, close to the city’s airport.
The French president, who is hoping to kickstart his flagging re-election campaign, said that unless significant progress is made within twelve months to cut the number of foreigners allowed to enter EU borders, France will leave the Schengen area, a move that would deal a blow to the free circulation of people within the union.
“At a time of economic crisis, if Europe doesn’t pick those who can enter its borders, it won’t be able to finance its welfare state any longer,” he told the rally. “We need a common discipline in border controls…We can’t leave the management of migration flows to technocrats and tribunals.”