Major faces row over 'no frontiers'

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR faces his first row over Europe since his leadership victory when on Wednesday Brussels will call for the lifting of border controls by the end of next year.

Britain is certain to reject the proposals saying that the abolition of frontier checks raises serious issues of national sovereignty and would reduce Britain's security.

The British Government argues that Margaret Thatcher gained a water- tight declaration, signed by all member states, that Britain would not have to lift its frontier checks if to do so would reduce powers to control immigration and security.

However, the legality of Mrs Thatcher's declaration is hotly disputed. The European Commission will argue that the European Union is already committed to the free movement of people in existing treaties which Britain has signed.

The proposals envisage the total abolition of all Customs and immigration checks on EU citizens travelling between member states. At the same time a new "ring fence" of tougher checks would be imposed on non-EU nationals arriving in the EU.

A number of European countries have already attempted to implement a border free zone under the so-called Schengen agreement.

The lifting of frontiers is now seen as a test of the EU's resolve to pursue greater integration. Officials in Brussels predict that the EU will have to allow Britain some form of "opt out" from the plan.

France closes doors: Page 14