French government officials are lobbying the European Union to allow the country to suspend visa-free travel to France amid concerns over mass immigration and stubbornly high rates of unemployment, reports the Irish Times.
Currently, tourists planning to travel to France and other E.U. nations do not require visas to move throughout the continent. However, French interior minister Claude Gueant said the Schengen treaty was encouraging illegal immigration and threatening further economic instability in the Euro Zone. "Schengen Visa is not functioning in a satisfactory manner," said Gueant, as quoted by the news source. "There are, according to experts, some 400,000 people who have entered in an irregular manner. Between two and four million foreigners live clandestinely in Schengen countries."
According to the BBC, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, echoed Gueant's sentiments during a visit to Romania, which is currently lobbying neighboring nation Bulgaria to join the Schengen treaty. Other European heads of state, including Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, have also warned of the growing threats to economic stability created by abuse of the Schengen treaty.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy said that a Europe that does not control immigration through border controls is finished.