Macron pledges additional French border police amid ‘growing terrorism threat’

France is set to strengthen its borders by doubling the number of police to 4,800 officers amid a “growing terrorism threat,” President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday in reference to recent attacks there and in Austria.

“We have foiled 32 plans for attacks on our soil” over three years, Macron said during a visit to the Pyrenees-Orientales area on France’s border with Spain on Thursday. 

The French president also called for an overhaul of the Schengen Area, the zone guaranteeing freedom of movement between ​​26 European countries, saying: “I am in favor of an in-depth re-foundation of Schengen to re-think its organization and beef up our common border security.” 

He said the increased controls would target illegal immigration, adding that he would put forward the first proposals on the project to the European Council in December. 

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Macron’s proposed border reforms follow a number of terrorist attacks in Europe, including Monday’s mass shooting in Vienna in which four people were killed by a gunman who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). 

That incident came after a series of violent incidents in France, including the recent shooting of a Greek Orthodox priest in Lyon, the murder of three people in Nice a week ago, and the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on October 16. 

The Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi on Thursday proposed to “suspend the Schengen agreements for a certain time,” in response to the attack.

“Nice was not affected because it was Nice, but because of its proximity to the Italian border,” he claimed.

Macron has also previously called for changes to the Schengen Area, warning in March of “the death of Schengen” as Europe braced for Covid-19 and shut its internal borders. 

But the French leader has also taken a tough stance on Europe’s free movement zone for immigration reasons. Last year, he said all Schengen nations had to accept “obligations of responsibility” such as border protection and stressed that “solidarity” was needed to address the issue of asylum-seekers. 

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Source:RT World News

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