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EU reviews Schengen border-free agreement

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The European Commission proposed on Wednesday that border controls be temporarily reintroduced in the Schengen free travel zone in exceptional circumstances.

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday that border controls be temporarily reintroduced in the Schengen free travel zone in exceptional circumstances.

The move comes in response to complaints from France and Italy inundated by thousands of undocumented immigrants who have arrived in Italy since the turmoil in North Africa began.

"It may also be necessary to foresee the temporary reintroduction of limited internal border controls under very exceptional circumstances," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.

More than 25,000 illegal immigrants have come to Italy recently, mostly from Tunisia.

Last week, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who met in Rome, asked European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for changes to the Schengen agreement.

However, the EU "should not leave it only up to the member states at our external borders to deal with extraordinary migratory situations," Malmstrom said.

"The free movement of people across European borders is a major achievement which must not be reversed," she said.

The Commission's draft policy paper will be submitted to a special meeting of EU interior ministers on May 12 and a meeting of EU heads of government on June 24.

MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti)

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