'Closing borders won't help'

26th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Immigration Minister Gerd Leers says that closing borders is not the answer to the stream of immigrants arriving in Europe from North Africa.

The minister argued for stricter inspections of Tunisians who want to travel to the Netherlands with an Italian residence permit. The Italian government recently decided to issue residence permits to thousands of Tunisians who had landed on the island of Lampedusa. This means they are now free to travel to other EU countries.

Mr Leers said he had no further information regarding proposals by Italy and France to introduce amendments to the Schengen treaty, which created a borderless area to allow for the free movement of people and goods among the 25 European signatory states. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Minister Leers said he would have preferred a discussion between all EU member states about a joint asylum policy, but pointed out that individual member states have the right to make their own arrangements.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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