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European Commission bows to franco-italian pressure on migration Schengen dilution is an ‘abdication of European principle’


04 May 2011


Justice & Home Affairs

The Party of European Socialists (PES) deplores the attempt by the conservatives to dismantle the Schengen agreement. The European Commission is caving into the demands of French President Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, who have been putting stronger and stronger pressure on the European Union to implement stricter rules on migration. Changing a fundamental treaty such as the Schengen agreement would attack the foundation of the European Union itself, as freedom of movement is one of the fundamental principle upon which the European Union is based.

The European Commission Communication on Migration should not be a conservative and reactionary paper, promoting a climate of fear within and between Member States as this would represent a backwards step in the European integration process.

“The Party of European Socialists is outraged by the concessions made to Sarkozy and Berlusconi by the European Commission, which should rather be standing tall as the guardian of the EU treaty – its legal obligation – instead of threatening such an important principle as freedom of movement”; stated PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

At the PES Euromed Conference in Tunis, PES member parties adopted a strong declaration in which a progressive approach to migration represents an important step towards democracy and development in North Africa. The alternative vision presented by the socialist and democratic socialist parties, strongly contrasting with the conservative’s approach, is based on responsibility and solidarity between the EU member States and other regions.

Tanja Fajon, Slovenian Member of the European Parliament, and co-chair of the PES Migration Network, stated that; “The PES advocates a renewed migration policy, not by closing the EU external and internal borders but rather by building on a better facilitation of the flows. We promote a common and solidaire approach to external EU-Border Management, an Integration Policy based on an inclusive and participative citizenship and socio-economic investment in developing regions. The movement of people is part of the globalised world we live in and the EU and all member states have a responsibility to enable this process in respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms and international agreements”.

As a first step, visa-facilitation should be introduced in order to treat people arriving at EU borders not as criminals but as potential contributors to our society. Therefore a common approach needs to be found, in a spirit of solidarity, respecting fundamental rights and international agreements and making use of all existing instruments at the EU’s disposal. Closing the borders is not the solution; the flows need to be better facilitated and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership strengthened. In the long term, visa liberalisation has to be implemented along with socio-economic investment in the developing regions.

PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen concluded that; “Europe needs a new direction and a new style of leadership. Our alternative vision is one based on open-mindedness. We have to show our neighbours that the European Union is not all borders and walls”.


For further information please contact Brian Synnott on +32 474 98 96 75 (

The PES brings together 33 socialist, social democratic, labour and progressive parties in the European Union and Norway, a parliamentary group in the European Parliament (184 MEPs) and in the Committee of the Regions (247 members) - plus observer and associate parties and organizations from all over Europe. ECOSY and PES Women are respectively the Youth and the Women's organizations of the PES.