Barnier demands stay on EU open border policy for ‘3 to 5 years’ to re-discuss Schengen

Michel Barnier says immigration should have '3 year suspension'

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Speaking to French station France Télévisions, former head of the European Commission’s Brexit relations Task Force, Michel Barnier demanded a halt to the European Union’s open-border policy. He suggested a “3 to 5 years” halt would help the union re-discuss the state of the Schengen Area and help tackle issues with the bloc’s migration system. He explained how the “problems of immigration are not moderate” adding the bloc “must find solutions” and implement stricter “border checks”.

Mr Barnier told France Télévisions: “I haven’t changed my method.

“The problems of immigration are not moderate.”

He added: “I say as the political man that I am to look at the problems as there are, as the French live it, and to find solutions.

“I think we must take the time of 3 to 5 years to suspend immigration.”

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But he clarified how he was not “talking about students, not talking about refugees.”

Mr Barnier stressed the importance of treating people seeking asylum and help on Europe’s shores “with humanity, with rigor.”

The Frenchman added: “But we must discuss with our neighbours the Schengen question, that we must apply border checks.

“That we have to be more rigorous.”

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Mr Barnier’s comments on immigration come as the plight of British expats is currently under the microscope, with strict immigration rules in relation to non-EU citizens now applying to people from the UK in the wake of Brexit.

Regulations state that people can visit visa-free for no more than 90 days out of a consecutive period of 180 days and for British citizens unable to prove they were resident in the relevant EU27 country prior to December 31, this means they would face a 90-day deadline to leave.

Leon Fernando Del Canto, of Del Canto Chambers in Spain, said the rules had major implications for anyone owning a property in his country or elsewhere in the bloc.

Mr Del Canto warned: “Prolonged illegal stay in a Schengen zone country could mean not being allowed to return for over three years.”

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He added: “Information on anyone who overstays in one of these countries will be logged into the immigration database and will therefore be easily noticed. This rule is a rigid one and there will be very little leniency by authorities towards those failing to abide by it.

“There will be no mitigating circumstances (even for family emergencies) that will allow for the relaxation of these rules.”

The rule changes were especially problematic for Brits who owned a second home abroad, Mr Del Canto acknowledged.

In total, more than 500,000 UK citizens own a holiday home in an EU Schengen zone country, most commonly Spain, which they bought before December 31, 2020, he said.

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