French President: “We Should Radically Overhaul Schengen”

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has stated that the Schengen Agreement, which allows citizens and visitors to the Schengen Zone to move freely across borders within the bloc, likely needs to undergo reforms.

The reason for the reforms according to Macron, is the safety of Europeans and visitors to the Schengen Area amid a series of Islamic extremist attacks in recent weeks both in France and other Member States.

The idea following reforms to the Schengen Agreement is that Member States might need to have additional military and police presence along external Schengen borders.

“We should radically overhaul Schengen to rethink its organization, to intensify our common border protection with a real security police force at the external borders of the area, but also by strengthening the integration of our rules and … a joint operation of our ministers in charge of internal and security matters,” Macron said during a press conference following a visit to Le Perthus in the Pyrenees.

Macron has also stated that within France he will be doubling the police border patrol presence from 2,400 to 4,800 patrols “because of the worsening threat” of terrorism inside of France’s borders, possibly coming from outside.

Macron also said that he would be presenting new measures for strengthening within the EU at the EU Summit in December 2020; these proposals will include “intensifying our common border protection with a real security force at the external borders.”

The security concern from Macron is the result of a string of suspected radical Islamist attacks in France and other Member States.

In early October 2020, Samuel Paty, a teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, France, was attacked and beheaded in the street by an 18-year-old Chechen Muslim. The attack was carried out because Paty had shown cartoon depictions of Muhammad, which is seen as extremely disrespectful to most Muslims, in a civics lesson about freedom of expression and free speech.

Following the initial attack, on 29 October 2020, an elderly woman and three other people were attacked and killed in a Church in Nice, France.

Witnesses said that they heard the attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar,” which in Arabic means “God is great.”

The perpetrator, identified as Brahim Aioussaoi, a 21-year-old Tunisian man, had traveled to the Italian island of Lampedusa in September and crossed into France a few days prior to the attack on the church.

These attacks have sparked the French government, particularly Macron, to push reform within the Schengen Area to have additional border security and an increased police presence to prevent further attacks.

Earlier this year, Macron had said that border closures within the Schengen Area would be “death of Schengen.”

It has not yet been announced how broader EU-governing authorities will react to Macron’s call for Schengen reform, or what exactly his reforms will be.

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