French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday vowed to step up border security after a spate of attacks, including a knife rampage in a Nice church blamed on a Tunisian migrant.
During a visit to the border between France and Spain, Macron also called for “far-reaching” reforms of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area.
Flanked by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, he said he would unveil proposals for strengthening border security at the next EU summit in December.
The proposals would include “intensifying our common border protection with a real police security force at the external borders” of the EU, Macron said.
In the meantime, he said the number of guards at France’s borders with its EU neighbors would be doubled to 4,800 from 2,400 “because of the worsening of the threat” from terrorism, he said.
France last week raised its attack alert to the highest level after three people were stabbed to death in a church in the city of Nice, in the third alleged jihadist attack in just over a month.
The suspect, a 21-year-old man who had arrived in Europe from Tunisia in September, reached France by crossing the Mediterranean to Italy and then crossing into France overland.
He was shot several times by police and remains hospitalized.
The Nice attack echoed the killing two weeks earlier of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee for showing his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson on freedom of speech.
Paty’s murder caused deep shock in France, where an attack on a teacher is seen as an attack on the republic itself.
Political parties on the right and far-right have since called for France’s cherished principle of secularism, which relegates religion strictly to the private sphere, to be given additional constitutional safeguards.
But Macron, a centrist, rejected the suggestion on Thursday.
“The situation does not warrant changing the constitution,” he said.