Macron left red faced with 'World laughing at France' after latest border plea

The French President said on Wednesday that the EU’s border-free Schengen Area should be managed by regular ministerial meetings just like the eurozone. Speaking to EU justice and interior ministers meeting in northern France, President Macron said what he dubbed the “Schengen Council” would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.

Mr Macron said: “This Council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny.”

The proposal was backed by some in Brussels but sparked furious Frexit calls in Paris as the President prepares to face an election in April.

Florian Philippot, Les Patriotes leader said: “For how many decades, yes decades, have they been promising to ‘reform Schengen’ at every election campaign?

“Finally open your eyes! They are laughing at us!

“Let’s leave Schengen and therefore the EU, let’s take back control, we are not sillier than the others!”

Echoing calls for France to leave the EU, Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois also blasted: “The EU sect strikes again.

“EU’s external borders and the Schengen passport are formidable.

“National borders are in fact the abomination.

“It is yet another white elephant that will not change the fact that Schengen is a sieve.”

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Mr Macron said the Council’s inaugural meeting could take place when the EU’s justice and home affairs ministers next gather on March 3.

Such a proposal would need the support of other member states in the 27-nation bloc to take effect, though French officials say it would not require any change to EU treaties.

The EU has been deeply divided for years in its response to immigration and on how to police Schengen’s external borders, and it remains to be seen how much France can achieve during its six-month presidency of the EU Council of Ministers.

On Thursday, Germany and the European Commission backed the creation of a Schengen Council. Other countries are yet to comment.

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“Germany will support the French proposal. It is right and important to work together more closely in the Schengen Area,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

“I very much welcome the proposal on the Schengen Council, we really need to strengthen the political governance of Schengen,” European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said as ministers met to discuss the proposals.

Mr Macron, who is all but certain to seek re-election as French president in April in a campaign dominated by security and identity issues, said he hoped to win over a number of reluctant EU countries.

“We must reform Schengen,” he said. “There can be no freedom of movement if we do not control our external borders.”

The Schengen Area is the world’s largest passport-free zone, allowing the unrestricted movement of people between 26 European countries.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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