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Europe

Six in ten French support limiting EU immigration

media The free movement of peoples within the Schengen Treaty area is a key principle of the EU. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Six in 10 French people support restricting immigration of migrants from European Union countries, according to a survey carried out just days after Switzerland approved a similar measure in a referendum.

The online survey by polling agency Ifop, published by the website Atlantico, found 59 percent of respondents favoured tightening conditions for EU citizens to move and work in France. 968 people representing the French adult population were questioned in the online poll.

Under the Schengen treaty signed by most EU member states and non-member states such as Switzerland and Norway, citizens are free to move around the borderless zone and have the right to live and work anywhere they choose. The agreement establishes the principle of the free movement of people, a core EU principle.

75 percent of supporters for France’s far right National Front party supported tighter restrictions, followed by 68 percent of right-wing UMP voters. Only 46 percent of left-leaning voters said yes to the poll.

On February 9, a slim majority of Swiss voters – 50.3 percent – approved an initiative by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party to curb immigration and renegotiate migration accords, including one signed in 2002 with the EU allowing the free movement of EU and Swiss citizens.

Far right and anti-immigration parties in Europe have hailed the Swiss vote. The EU said it “regrets” the referendum, adding it would review the implications for relations between Brussels and Bern.

A separate survey released on Saturday found increasing support for the National Front ahead of European Parliament elections in May.

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