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France and Italy push EU to end open borders

France and Italy will today present Brussels with an ultimatum to tear up the free travel European border rule that has been the EU's signature accomplishment for 16 years.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is holding emergency talks in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after a row over Tunisian refugees threatened to spiral out of control.

Mr Berlusconi called the meeting after his decision to give more than 25,000 Tunisian refugees residence permits caused the worst border crisis since the EU's 1995 Schengen Treaty.

Mr Sarkozy, who will face a challenge from the anti-immigrant far-right next year, has responded furiously and criticised "flawed" rules that have let the migrants into France.

France has accused Italy of violating the EU's Schengen free movement rules by giving permits to the Arab migrants, who are mainly French-speaking.

Mr Sarkozy will accuse Italy of deliberately issuing the immigrants with permits, directing them toward France and even buying their train tickets.

Italy has been angered at France taking the lead on Libya by launching military action and recognising the Libyan rebels. Mr Berlusconi, a close ally of Muammar Gaddafi, was wounded not to have been consulted over the decisions affecting Italy's region. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent