In early May 2011, borth France and Italy requested the European Commission to adapt the Schengen rules, abolishing border checks within the EU and proving crucial for the free movement principle, cornerstone of the EU’s economic and legal system.
A few days later, the European Commission tabled a proposal to revise the Schengen system and to allow for temporary border checks to be re-installed between Member States. Barroso, the Commission’s president, held that “Reintroducing border controls is not a desirable development for Europe, neither in the current circumstances, nor for the future challenges that we will face sooner or later. It should be an absolute last resort.” The proposal was warmly welcomed by the Green party in the European Parliament and by the European People’s party, although it was strongly critisized by the European Socialist and Liberals.
Further, Denmark decided on 11 may to rebuild its border checks in its ports and airports, and to re-open its border control points with Germany and with Sweden (to which Denmark united by a bridge).
On the one hand,a possible re-establishment of border controls within the Union, even if temporary and applied as a measure of last resort, clearly goes against the aim of Schengen to provide a free circulation area within the EU and the Schengen Members. Such measures would severely hinder free trade and free movement provisions, which are amongst the EU’s key principles. Further, the adoption of such measures implictly shows a lack of trust between Member States, especially regarding the way some of them protect the Union’s external borders.
On the other hand, some argue that national authorities should protect themselves against cross-border crime and against massive fluxes of illegal immigration (as under the current Schengen system, once these have gained initial access to the EU’s territory, they are entitled to free movement and can go to other EU Member States), and the only and most effective way to achieve such protection is with the installment of border check points and border controls.
What do you think? Is the Commission’s proposal a step backwards or a step forward? Do you prefer a free Europe or a highly securitized EuropeAuthor : European Movement UK