Schengen keeps alive the idea of a Europe free of internal border control which facilitates a rapid and smooth flow of goods, services and persons, without any border check delays.
However, the huge influx of migrants and the uncooperative EU member states have destabilized Schengen like never before. France imposed its border control as a direct consequence to the terrorist attacks that occured in the past months. Sweden imposed temporary border controls as it cannot cope with 10,000 daily applications to asylum from refugees in Malmö. Denmark imposed temporary border controls, fearing it will have a tremendous amount of asylum seekers after Sweden’s actions. Germany is sending undesired refugees to Austria. Furthermore, one might wonder if the approval of new candidates to Schengen (Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia) is not actually becoming more and more difficult to obtain.
Could the borders controls signify an end to Schengen?
The official webpage of Schengen says that the “Member states reserve the right to temporarily reintroduce controls at their internal borders for 30 days (though this may be extended when necessary) when there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security.” This happened before, for example, in the wake of the 2005 London transit bombings, France reintroduced checks at its internal borders. Belgium & Portugal did the same in the 2000’s for different security reasons. As a matter of fact, Schengen Member States reinstated border controls 33 times between 2000 and 2003, yet they have lasted a maximum of three weeks.
Indeed, today the Schengen system is more threatened than ever before due to the reintroduction of borders, which brings major economic problems in a free Europe. Junker, the European Commission president, said that without the” free movement” there is no purpose in having a European currency.
“There is an intimate link between Schengen and the euro. What is the point of having a single currency for the continent if you can’t travel freely across the continent?”
Furthermore, Junker confirmed that destabilizing Schengen will lead to unemployment and less economic growth. “If anyone wants to kill off Schengen, ultimately what they would do is do away with the single market as well, which will lead to unemployment no longer being under control.” Junker further on explained that if all trucks are delayed one hour by the border controls, 3 billion euros extra-costs are to be allocated per year for traveling through Europe.
A shaking Schengen leads to a shaking internal market and therefore to shaking European economic stability. Europe needs more solidarity among member states that want to successfully tackle the present security challenges, such as the refugee influx and the terrorist attacks within Europe. At the same time, when deciding upon solutions, the member states need to remember their European core values, such as the freedom of movement and respect for human rights. In the end, cooperation has been the key to a successful European economy, security and liberty and thus it is the members state’s obligation to restore the high level of European solidarity and credibility and to address the importance of Schengen.