France's Sarkozy calls for end of Schengen, Franco-German bloc
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy called for the end of Europe's visa-free Schengen area and the creation of a Franco-German economic bloc at the heart of the eurozone, in an opinion piece in Le Point magazine published Thursday.
As France prepares to vote in EU-wide elections on Sunday, Sarkozy said "Schengen I must be immediately suspended and be replaced by a Schengen II of which member countries can only be a part if they previously agree to the same immigration policy".
Europe migration policy has failed and the need to replace Schengen I has become obvious, he added.
"Europe is not meant to organise social and migratory dumping, almost systematically at the expense of France," he warned.
The Schengen area comprises 26 European countries that have abolished passport or any other type of border control in-between their common borders.
Schengen encourages the free movement of people and goods.
Non-EU countries like Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are part of the area, but EU members Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are not.
Sarkozy said that without a quick fix in coming years France's social system could break up.
He also called for half of the competences in the hands of Brussels to be returned to national governments.
Sarkozy said the European Union protects its citizens from the "ideological veering off course of governments and majority parties.
"If the European Union broke up centuries-old hatred and conflicts of interest would resurface more violently."
"We must correct its excesses but as a project it must be preserved."
A "large, coherent and stable" Franco-German economic bloc at the heart of the eurozone would allow France "to better defend (its) interests in the face of German competition by doing away with fiscal and social disadvantages", he added.
This "would allow us to take over the leadership of the 18 countries that make up our monetary union".
Sarkozy's contribution to Le Point will also be published by Germany's Die Welt newspaper, his aides said.
© 2014 AFP