Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested that France should close its borders to illegal immigrants who are damaging the economy.

The French president, whose re-election bid is being challenged by Socialist front-runner François Hollande, said during a rally on Sunday that France should pull out of the Schengen zone in an effort to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country.

The Schengen Agreement eliminated internal border controls for travelers in 26 European Union countries, But Sarkozy thinks the decades old program is harming our way of life.

In the coming 12 months, (if) there is no serious progress towards [reforming Schengen], France would then suspend its participation in the Schengen accords until negotiations conclude, he said.

''If France does not take the lead, nothing will happen. If nothing happens, Europe will lose its place in the world. Give Europe control of its future; give France control over its destiny,'' he added.

The speech reinforced comments Sarkozy made last Friday, when he insisted that there were too many foreigners in France. He as also stated the France should cut the number of legal immigrants entering the country by half.

The issue of illegal immigration has always been at the fore of modern European politics, but the current economic troubles in France have people wondering if shutting out migrants could revitalize the job force for natives.

Our system of integration is working worse and worse because we have too many foreigners on our territory, and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school, the French president said last week.

His comments are viewed by critics as a thinly veiled attempt to cull support from the right-wing and an attempt to win supporters away from National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, according to Le Monde.

Sarkozy also suggested a Buy European Act that could counter Buy American Act and bring more business to France and the E.U.

I want a Europe that protects its citizens. I no longer want this savage competition, he told the crowd on Sunday.

I have lost none of my will to act, my will to make things change, my belief in the genius of France.