European Union raps France over immigration 'Non'
European Union immigration commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem warned France Friday it is on a collision course with the law by returning Tunisian migrants to Italy.
"The French authorities cannot send them back to Italy," Cecilia Malmstroem said, because France and Italy are both members of the borderless Schengen area on mainland Europe.
"France could evoke a serious threat to public order, but this is not the case here," she said after Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini complained that France was failing to show solidarity with Rome, the first port of call for an outpouring of some 20,000 migrants, most of them Tunisians, amid unrest in Arab north Africa.
About 100 to 200 Tunisian immigrants arrive every day in the town of Ventimiglia, the last in Italy before the French border, only to be turned back when they cross the invisible frontier.
Typically they have landed in the south of Italy on makeshift boats, often on the tiny island of Lampedusa, before being transferred to reception centres on the mainland.
From there they travel by train to Ventimiglia hoping to enter France where many have relatives.
Rome frequently accuses EU partners of abandoning it in its battle against clandestine immigration.
© 2011 AFP