PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened in a key election rally Sunday to pull France out of Europe's 25-nation visa free zone unless the EU does more to keep out illegal immigrants.
Sarkozy, who this week said France had too many foreigners, made the threat at a mass meeting which he hopes will turn the tide against front-running Socialist Francois Hollande with just 42 days to go before election day.
The so-called Schengen passport-free zone must urgently be overhauled to fight the flow of illegal immigration, said the right-wing leader, returning to a constant theme in his bid for five more years at the Elysee palace.
To chants of "Nicolas, president!" from the tens of thousands in the flag-waving audience, Sarkozy said unchecked immigration would put extra strain on social safety nets for Europe's poorest.
"In the coming 12 months, (if) there is no serious progress towards this (reforming Schengen), France would then suspend its participation in the Schengen accords until negotiations conclude," he declared.
The Schengen area is home to 400 million Europeans who can cross borders without a passport.
Once inside the area, illegal immigrants can theoretically move freely between the participating states. Sarkozy accuses some EU states of having lax border controls that let in illegals who may later turn up in France. Read More