By Antoine Lerougetel and Olivier Laurent in France:
16 March 2012
At his presidential election rally Sunday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to oblige the European Union to end the free circulation of people in the Schengen area and strengthen the area’s borders, known as “Fortress Europe”, against immigration from outside the EU.
Claiming that Europe was “in danger of dislocation,” Sarkozy said: “There must be a common discipline in the controls at the frontiers. … If I were to see that over the next 12 months there is no serious progress on this, then France would suspend its participation in the Schengen agreements until negotiations are concluded.”
Sarkozy’s provocative statements at the rally included an attack on “multiculturalism”, and calls for referendums to toughen conditions for naturalisation and residence rights for immigrants. He also proposed forcing the unemployed to take the first job offered to them after compulsory training.
Sarkozy is deepening his strategy of winning votes from neo-fascist National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen by adopting the neo-fascists’ program, as the entire ruling elite in France and in Europe takes on an ever more openly fascistic character.
This follows Sarkozy’s statement in a March 6 appearance on France2 television, that France has “too many foreigners”. He proposed slashing the already relatively small number of foreigners that come to France each year: “Over a five-year term, we must cut in half the number of people who come here, passing from 180,000 to around 100,000.”
He signalled that he aimed to make it harder for immigrants to bring their families to France, including immigrants married to French people. Another administrative measure applied since May 2011 imposes an outright ban on foreign students working in France once they have completed their degrees.
These comments exemplify how the ruling class in France collectively uses the FN to set the tone of political debate, allowing Sarkozy and Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande to endorse ultra-right, anti-immigrant measures. Last month Hollande called for a “solution” to the presence of Roma in France by interning them in camps. (See: “French Socialist Party presidential candidate calls for interning the Roma”).
Sarkozy is seeking to exploit popular anger with the reactionary, pro-business EU, which functions as a tool of rival European imperialist powers to ruin the working class, to push the political climate drastically to the right.