France urges EU to strengthen the border controls after attacks
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged his European Union (EU) counterparts to strengthen the border controls in the bloc’s Schengen zone after terror attacks in France and Austria.
Macron, speaking during a visit to France’s border with Spain, said France alone will bolster its border controls by doubling police numbers to 4,800.
The increased controls would target illegal immigration amid “a growing terrorism threat”, he said.
“I am in favor of an in-depth re-foundation of Schengen to re-think its organization and beef up our common border security,” Macron added.
France has been hit by a string of attacks in recent years.
Europe is reeling from two attacks in the past week that involved assailants who moved freely between Schengen member states.
A knife-wielding Tunisian man, who arrived in France from Italy, killed three people in a church in Nice on October 30.
In Vienna, the jihadist killed four people in another attack on Monday.
Macron said the recent attacks were a warning to Europe that “the terrorist risk is everywhere”.
France’s border police chief told Macron there had been a surge in attempted crossings of the Franco-Spanish frontier since it reopened in June following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. Many came from Algeria and Morocco, agents said.
“We need to bolster our fight against illegal immigration and traffickers who, increasingly often, have links to terrorism,” the president said.
France has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools, and France’s security alert is at its highest level.