NEWS

EU cool on idea of stricter border controls

European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom on Thursday sought to quash a bid by the French and German interior ministers, Claude Gueant and Hans-Peter Friedrich, to reimpose border controls in the Schengen area of passport-free travel amid concerns that external border states such as Greece are not protecting EU frontiers.

Describing the Schengen treaty as ?too important to be held hostage by a pre-election campaign,? Malmstrom appeared to suggest that politicians were seeking to capitalize on concerns about immigration ahead of May 6 presidential elections in France.

The proposal by the two ministers did not go down well with the European Commission?s justice and home affairs council. Still, Gueant and Friedrich have insisted that border controls are an issue of national sovereignty and security.

In a related development, Greek health authorities on Thursday started inspections on undocumented immigrants living in crowded apartments in central Athens.