Emmanuel Macron demands Europe ‘rethink’ Schengen agreement and strengthen borders

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The French President demanded a “deep overhaul” of the Schengen area to crack down on illegal immigration and terrorism. Speaking during a visit to Le Perthus, at the border with Spain, Mr Macron said: “Fighting against this Islamist terrorism means fighting against the trafficking networks who have links with terrorists and who are sometimes terrorists themselves.

“We need to bolster our fight against illegal immigration and traffickers who, increasingly often, have links to terrorism.

“I am in favour of a deep overhaul of Schengen to rethink its organisation and to strengthen our common border security with a proper border force.”

Mr Macron announced the number of police at France’s borders would be doubled from 2,400 to 4,800.

He added: “Terrorist threats are everywhere, the networks are worldwide.

“This means that Europe must intensify its response.”

The French leader is set to present his proposals to the European Union summit in December.

France is hoping to win Germany’s backing for the plan, a Government official said.

The official also cited the Netherlands and Austria as possible allies.

The Schengen area is made up of 26 European countries which have abolished internal borders.

Mr Macron’s comments come after France has faced a spate of Islamist attacks.

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Last month, three people were killed in a knife attack at a church in Nice.

Earlier in October, teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in Paris after showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed for a class on free speech.

And three people were killed and several others left injured in Austria on Monday night after a gunman, believed to have an Islamist motive, went on a shooting spree through Vienna armed with an assault rifle, carrying other handguns, and wearing a fake explosive belt.

In an open letter to the Financial Times this week, Mr Macron said: “France has been attacked by Islamist terrorists because it embodies freedom of expression, the right to believe or not to believe and a certain way of life.

“The French people have risen up to say that they will not surrender any of France’s values, its identity, or its imagination.

“But since 2015 it has become clear, and I said this even before I became president, that there are breeding grounds for terrorists in France.

“In certain districts and on the internet, groups linked to radical Islam are teaching hatred of the republic to our children, calling on them to disregard its laws.”

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