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French PM: Migrant Crisis Threatens EU Foundations

FILE - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
FILE - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

France’s prime minister has joined growing voices in warning that Europe's ongoing migrant crisis threatens the very foundations of the 28-member European Union.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the tens of thousands of migrants who continue pouring into Europe threaten the idea of a unified continent, especially when it comes to the passport-free Schengen zone.

Speaking to the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Valls said that if Europe is not capable of protecting its borders, the so-called "European project" or European Union, is in danger of disappearing.

Roughly one million migrants arrived in Europe last year, many of them fleeing conflict in the Middle East, Asia and Africa; but, tens of thousands of others arrived, hoping for better economic opportunities.

Today, a growing number of European countries are introducing border controls to curb the influx and Hungary has built a fence on its border with Croatia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing growing pressure after welcoming in hundreds of thousands of migrants last year.

"External border controls are essential. EU members also need to be more active in weeding out economic migrants, who should be sent home," said Valls.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also warned this week that Europe was close to the breaking point. The chief of Eurogroup finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said in Davos that Europe needs to spend much more to deal with the crisis where refugees are located, in the Middle East.

Separately, Valls said France’s state of emergency, announced after November’s terrorist attacks in Paris, would remain in place until the so-called “total” battle against the Islamic State group is over.