uk border control
Bring back internal EU border controls, says UK MP Sir Roger GaleReuters

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has called on the European Commission to bring back internal border controls to help ease the migrant issue at Calais as thousands continue to try and make their way into the UK.

He is urging the European Commission, according to Kent News, to scrap Schengen and to re-introduce internal EU border controls to ensure that illegal immigrants are "controlled outside and within the borders over which they claim jurisdiction."

A total of 26 European countries come under the Schengen agreement which eliminates passport and immigration controls at their joint borders. The UK is not part of this arrangement.

"It is time that the commission stepped up to the plate and indicated what, precisely, they intend to do to ensure that European road hauliers and domestic travelers can enjoy their much-vaunted "freedom of movement" lawfully while taking measures to ensure that illegal immigrants are controlled outside and within the borders over which they claim jurisdiction."

In proposing the scrapping of the Schengen agreement, he said: "The question is; 'Is there anyone within the commission with the balls not only to suggest this but to see through it."

Gale, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said that immigration is a "mainland-European problem and one that is emphatically not the responsibility of the United Kingdom or the British taxpayer."

He said the UK has maintained its border checks and controls while France has abolished all internal borders. "The net result of this is that once a person, legally or illegally, is inside the European Union there is literally no control until they reach Calais."

He noted how when the French government tried to impose border controls between France and Italy, the commission over-ruled France.

Gale said that the thousands of illegal migrants clustering at Calais are preventing the "free movement of people" lawfully between the two member states of the EU.

"So what is the European Commission doing about this?" he asks.

Calais problem outside its competency, says European Commission

In response, the European Commission told KentonLine, that it is unable to intervene in the Calais crisis, noting that the responsibility lay with the French authorities.

"The commission is aware of the situation in Calais and is ready to help the French authorities cope with the number of asylum seekers present in the region. Indeed, it recently awarded €3.78m in emergency funding to France to deal with the situation," a Commission spokesman said in a statement.

"Between 2014-2020 the commission has earmarked around €85m for France for actions dealing with irregular migration. However preventing migrants from physically boarding lorries and trains at Calais is a national police competence. The commission has no authority in this matter."

It added that it regretted the traffic congestion caused and is "always concerned about any issue that negatively affects the free flow of transport."

However, it points out that the issue of strikes in Calais fell outside its competency.

"The situation in Calais is another example of the need for a greater level of solidarity and responsibility in the way we deal with migratory pressures in Europe," the spokesman said.

The response from the commission drew negative response from the online website's readers with one person saying: "Well, that's that then – my mind is made up as far as the [EU] referendum goes, what's the point of being a member of a 'club' if they just sit on their hands."

Another reader suggested that people should go to Dover and protest.