Macron takes aim at migration with eye on French election

Feb 1, 2022, 4:48 PM | Updated: Feb 2, 2022, 8:03 pm
French President Emmanuel Macron waves from a car he leaves after a visit at the Louvre Lens museum...

French President Emmanuel Macron waves from a car he leaves after a visit at the Louvre Lens museum in Lens, northern France, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Macron is pushing for strengthening the European Union's external borders to prevent migrants form entering illegally into the bloc's passport-free area _ as the issue is also central to France's ongoing presidential campaign. (Pascal Rossignol, Pool Photo via AP)

(Pascal Rossignol, Pool Photo via AP)

TOURCOING, France (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is taking aim at migration — a core issue in the country’s presidential campaign — by pushing to strengthen the European Union’s external borders against people illegally entering the bloc’s passport-free area.

Macron is expected to run for a second term in France’s April 3 presidential election. Conservative and far-right candidates have made migration a top campaign theme, criticizing what they see as Macron’s inaction on stemming migration.

“Our passport-free area (in Europe) is being threatened if we don’t know how to guard our external borders and monitor who is entering in,” Macron told the La Voix du Nord newspaper.

Macron met with the EU’s interior ministers in northern France on Wednesday evening, as the country holds the bloc’s six-month rotating presidency. He also met earlier in the day with local officials to discuss economic issues in the former mining region.

Macron said migration policies need to be discussed within a specific political body that will be able to anticipate and draw plans up to prevent crisises.

“We want to establish a real Schengen Council to supervise the (passport-free) Schengen area, like what we have for the eurozone,” Macron said in a speech in the city of Tourcoing on the Belgian border. He proposed that the first meeting of the council be held next month.

The Schengen area comprises 26 countries — including non-EU nations Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. During the pandemic, many Schengen nations erected temporary border controls that went contrary to the zone’s ‘freedom of movement’ ideal.

Macron also wants to create a “rapid reaction force” to help protect EU states’ borders in case of a migrant surge and is also pushing for a rethink of the bloc’s asylum application process.

The EU’s 27 national leaders agree that changes are needed in the bloc’s immigration policies but disagree on how to go about it.

The arrival in 2015 of well over 1 million people, many of them refugees fleeing war in Syria, sparked one of the EU’s biggest political crises. Greece was overwhelmed by tens of thousands of people landing in its islands from Turkey. But other EU countries refused to share the burden of caring for the refugees.

In December, the EU’s executive arm overhauled the rule book governing free movement in Europe amid EU accusations that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was exploiting migrants in a “hybrid attack” on the bloc by offering them passage to the borders of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Macron also said he wants the EU to be more efficient in deporting those refused entry.

The French president is also looking to reduce the number of visas issued to non-EU nations that are reluctant to take back their citizens who have been refused asylum in the EU. He said the issue will be discussed at a summit between the European Union and the African Union later this month. On average, only around 40% of people refused entry to the bloc are ever actually sent home.

At home, Macron has been under harsh criticism from political rivals over migration, especially after 27 migrants died when their smuggling boat sank in the English Channel in November.

Far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour in January visited the northern town of Calais, where migrants gather in makeshift camps as they try to reach Britain. Zemmour said migrants are dying at sea “because we’re not tough enough with them. If we had told them … you won’t come to France, you will be deported as soon as you arrive, they would not be dead.”

A record-high 52,000 people tried to cross the English Channel last year, with more than half making it to Britain, according to the French Interior Ministry.

The other French far-right presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, travelled last month to the border area between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, which is used as a entry route by migrants coming in from Africa. She called for re-establishing national border controls.

Conservative contender Valerie Pécresse recently made a campaign trip to Greece to visit a camp for asylum-seekers who want to enter Europe from Turkey. She also stressed the need for strong European borders.

“It is not at all fortress Europe, but it is not a supermarket Europe either…. There are doors and you must go through the door,” she said.

Zemmour, Le Pen and Pécresse are considered Macron’s main challengers in the presidential election to be held in two rounds, with a first vote on April 10 and a runoff between the top two contenders on April 24.


AP Writer Lorne Cook contributed from Brussels.


Follow all AP stories about global migration at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Arby's - LEHI, UT - OCTOBER 26: Exterior view of an Arby's restaurant on October 26, 2017 in Lehi, ...
Associated Press

Ex-Arby’s manager in Vancouver, Wash. sentenced after urinating in milkshake mix

A former manager at an Arby’s restaurant admitted to possessing child pornography and urinated into a milkshake mix
20 hours ago
FILE - An Optus phone sign hangs above its store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Aust...
Associated Press

Australia flags tough new data protection laws this year

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia could have tough new data protection laws in place this year in an urgent response to a cyberattack on a telecommunications company that stole the personal data of 9.8 million customers, the attorney-general said on Thursday. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the government would make “urgent reforms” to the Privacy Act […]
20 hours ago
FILE - In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shak...
Associated Press

Friend or foe? Japan-China ties complicated after 50 years

TOKYO (AP) — Friend or foe? Or both? On the streets of Tokyo and Beijing, the ties between Japan and China remain complicated and often contradictory, 50 years after the two Asian countries normalized relations as part of the process that brought Communist China into the international fold. Chinese official media and textbooks memorialize the […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Coolio performs during the "I Love The 90's" tour on Aug. 7, 2022, at RiverEdge Park in Auro...
Associated Press

‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop’s biggest names of the 1990s with hits including “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” died Wednesday at age 59, his manager said. Coolio died at the Los Angeles home of a friend, longtime manager Jarez Posey told The Associated Press. The cause was not immediately […]
20 hours ago
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, right, exits Air Force Two at Osan Air Base on her arrival, in P...
Associated Press

VP Harris to visit DMZ after North Korean missile tests

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is capping her four-day trip to Asia with a stop at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean Peninsula as she tries to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the security of its Asian allies. The visit on Thursday comes on the heels of North […]
20 hours ago
Curious sightseers walk in the receding waters of Tampa Bay due to the low tide and tremendous wind...
Associated Press

Water drains from Tampa Bay from Ian’s winds, then refills

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Water driven back by powerful winds drained from Tampa Bay as Hurricane Ian approached Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and some dared to venture out on the exposed bay floor. Ian eventually made landfall as a major hurricane near Fort Myers, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the south. A number […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Macron takes aim at migration with eye on French election