A majority of western Europeans are in favour of ending the free movement of people across borders as the migration crisis escalates, according to a new poll.
The IFOP poll, conducted in several European countries and published in the newspaper Le Figaro, shows 67 per cent of the French would like to reinstate border controls.
They want to scrap the Schengen Agreement, which allows people to travel without passports in 26 European countries, including 22 EU member-states as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Britain has opted out of the agreement and still controls its borders, but 63 per cent of Britons would like to see border checks reinstated in Europe.
The Schengen Agreement allows people to travel without passports in 26 European countries (Alamy)
A majority of Italians and Germans would also favour such a move, with 56 per cent of Italians and 53 per cent of Germans wanting to scrap the Schengen treaties.
In France, the former centre-Right president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has called for the accords to be revised as migrants fleeing war and political repression in the Middle East and Africa continue to stream into Europe.
“Schengen must be suspended immediately and replaced by a Schengen II which member-countries could only join if they first agree to the same immigration policy,” Mr Sarkozy said recently. “Europe is not meant to organise social and migratory dumping.”
Migrants prepare to enter a train to Serbia in the town of Gevgelija, on the Macedonian-Greek border (AFP/Getty)
The high number of French people who favour restoring passport checks could be explained by the thousands of migrants entering France from Italy.
France initially turned a blind eye to them as most were heading for Britain or Germany. It changed its policy after hundreds of migrants set up camps in the heart of Paris three months ago after failing to cross the Channel from Calais.
Migrants in a make shift camp known as the ‘New Jungle’ in Calais (Getty)
France is now sending migrants back to Italy, arguing that it is not breaching the Schengen treaties as it has the right to expel illegal immigrants from outside the EU. French officials have often criticised Britain for implementing similar policies at its border, leaving France struggling to cope with up to 4,000 migrants sleeping rough in Calais.
Their attempts to board lorries bound for England have caused chaos in Calais and have several times led to the temporary closure of the port.
France and Germany agreed on Thursday to accept 21,000 asylum-seekers and refugees as part of European efforts to deal with the migration crisis. France is to take 9,100 and Germany 12,100.
EU leaders agreed last month to take 60,000 migrants over the next two years on a voluntary basis after many member-states, including Britain and France, objected to a proposal for mandatory quotas.