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The Battle of Ventimiglia

(published in Ouest-France , April 8, 2011) Italy's desire to issue a “temporary” residence permit to Tunisians arriving on its soil has sparked some bittersweet exchanges between Rome and Paris. Both accuse each other of not respecting the European rules in force. Who is right, who is wrong ? Ouest-France checked.

Can Italy give a residence permit to migrants?

Yes. The rules for issuing residence permits or legalizing illegal immigrants are not harmonized at European level. It is up to each state to decide to whom it gives this title and according to what criteria. He can limit the title to his national territory or extend it to the entire Schengen zone. Otherwise what one decides, the other can undergo. The Ministers of the Interior had therefore agreed on political coordination and consultation in the event of “regularization”. But this obligation is purely political.

Can France refuse these migrants?

Yes under certain conditions. Any residence permit issued by a State participating in the Schengen zone allows free movement during the period of validity of the permit. But the French can check that the conditions laid down by the Schengen convention are respected. In particular, the migrant must be able to provide proof of means of subsistence, a rather vague concept left to the discretion of each State. It must not represent a threat to public order, a precise notion, assessed very strictly in general by European and French courts. If the migrant does not meet his conditions, he can be returned either to his country of origin or to the State from which he comes.

Does France have the right to block the border?

No. In the Schengen area, we can carry out spot checks to arrest people suspected of a crime. But it is forbidden to carry out systematic or permanent checks on the border or its surroundings.

Can migrants be sent back to Tunisia?

Yes under three conditions: to be sure of the nationality of the migrants, that the latter has not requested the right of asylum and if Tunisia agrees. There is no general readmission agreement with Tunisia, it must be a case-by-case agreement.

Who will win the battle of Ventimiglia?

Anybody. France as Italy are each in their right. It is only through a political agreement at European level that the question of the arrival of Tunisians can be settled. The Ministers of the Interior meet Monday, in Luxembourg, on this hot topic!

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).