French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered an ultimatum to the EU on immigration, complete with a "Buy European Act" and a threat to suspend the Schengen Agreement that allows passport-free travel among 25 European nations.
Hollow Threat for Political Reasons or the Real Deal?
Given how badly Sarkozy trails in recent polls to challenger François Hollande, it's difficult to know for sure if this is some political stunt to revitalize his sinking chances, or if he has really turned isolationist.
Please consider Sarkozy Threatens to Exit Schengen Agreement.
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, who is trailing Socialist rival François Hollande in polls, 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."