Paris backs away from borders row

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KOLDING, Denmark - France is backing away from a full-scale confrontation with its European partners over border controls, writes Andrew Marshall. At a meeting of justice and interior ministers in Denmark, Charles Pasqua, the French Interior Minister, told reporters that France did not want to postpone implementation of the 1990 Schengen Accord indefinitely, just to sort out problems over drug policy and frontiers.

The Schengen agreement would remove the barriers to the movement of people among its nine signatories. France had indicated that it wanted to back out of the deal, which is agreed but not fully implemented.

Mr Pasqua had a bilateral meeting with his colleagues from the Netherlands on Thursday to iron out problems over the influx of drugs from the Netherlands. The two countries agreed to exchange magistrates, and to improve information over drug policy. The problems centre on the Netherlands' liberal laws on drugs and what are seen as lax security controls at Dutch airports.

But the French problem is just the tip of the iceberg. The single market has created a number of issues over borders which the present EC structures are ill-prepared to handle.