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Sarkozy threatens to leave Schengen

Sarkozy tackles issue of illegal immigrants in run-up to elections

PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to pull France out of the visa-free Schengen zone unless the European Union makes progress on reducing illegal immigration.

The remark was made in a speech at a key election rally on Sunday in the Parisian suburb of Villepinte in which Mr Sarkozy called for a "revision" of the Schengen Agreement, but also threatened to "suspend [France's] participation" if a new government policy was not implemented within twelve months.

The Schengen treaty is intended to guarantee the management of migration by controlling the external borders of Europe, however this relies heavily on neighbouring countries. 400 million Europeans in the Schengen zone can cross borders without a passport. Illegal immigrants who access the area can also take advantage of this ability to move freely between countries.

It is thought that Sarkozy, who recently criticised the number of foreigners in France, made the threat in the hope of destabilising Socialist candidate Francois Hollande who is currently leading in pre-election polls.

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