Tory MPs warned of EU plan to end border checks

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chief Political Correspondent

Tory MPs were alarmed last night after being privately warned by the Government that the European Commission will today propose ending border controls and checks on passports in spite of Britain's objections.

The MPs were warned in a briefing note by the Conservative Research Department that Commissioner Mario Monti, in charge of policy on the European internal market, would propose a directive requiring all member states to abolish their internal border controls.

Mr Monti will also propose a second directive abolishing passport or identity checks at EU internal borders. A third directive would give nationals from outside the EU but resident in Europe the right to travel across member states' borders for a short visit.

The proposals could re-ignite the row over Europe in the Tory party. Tory MPs were assured that ministers would use Britain's veto to block the move. "If Commissioner Monti's proposals do turn out to be unacceptable then the Government will not hesitate to veto them," said one MP. However, some senior backbench MPs said the veto would be successfully challenged in the European Court, and Britain would be forced to abandon its border controls.

The announcement today could force Britain to put the issue of border controls on the agenda for the 1996 Inter-governmental Conference (IGC). MPs were advised that Baroness Thatcher had secured a "solemn declaration" from every EU head of government which the Government believed entitled Britain to maintain existing border controls.