Germany against EU internal border plan: minister

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Germany's interior minister hit back forcefully Friday against a draft plan to give EU officials more say in when member states can reintroduce border controls in the passport-free Schengen travel area.

Under the draft EU legislation obtained by AFP, a country in the passport-free zone would be able to resume border patrols without asking permission, but only for five days.

Beyond that, the country would have to ask permission from the European Commission in Brussels.

But Hans-Peter Friedrich slammed the proposals, saying: "Security questions are a core competence of member states and we will not accept a transfer of this task to others or an undermining of this competence."

"We will not allow Brussels to dictate when we introduce controls. We control the borders if the security situation requires," Friedrich told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's edition to be published on Saturday, released in advance.

"It is a matter for individual member states to assess the dangers to public safety," he added.

The Schengen agreement faced a storm of controversy during the Arab Spring due to fears that the upheaval across the Mediterranean would unleash a wave of illegal migrants across the continent.

France and Italy called for an overhaul of the passport-free travel zone after the two nations traded barbs when Paris sent border guards to the Italian border.

European Union home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem agreed in May to work on a proposal, to be presented on September 13.

Denmark is already facing criticism from Brussels after it deployed permanent customs controls at its German and Swedish borders.

© 2011 AFP

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