The European Commission said Monday that French authorities had not broken EU law at the weekend when they blocked trains carrying Tunisian migrants from Italy for several hours, prompting Italian authorities to launch an official complaint.
AFP - France acted within its rights when it halted trains from Italy to check the travel papers of Tunisian migrants at the weekend, the European Commission said Monday.
European home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said French authorities cited "public order reasons" for inspecting the trains.
"Apparently they have the right to do this," she said, adding that France explained that the trains were stopped "very temporarily."
France angered Italy on Sunday when French authorities halted trains coming from the border town of Ventimiglia for a few hours in order to thwart a group of Tunisian migrants and protesters opposed to stricter migration rules.
The European neighbours have been at odds over how to handle a wave of Tunisian migrants who have poured onto Italian shores since a popular revolt in Tunisia in January.
Italy has moved to grant temporary residence permits to more than 20,000 migrants, which would allow them to travel freely within Europe's 25-nation Schengen visa-free zone.