It’s the End of Schengen (As We Know It)

I owe you an apology. It was difficult to find the inspiration and will to write something for the blog this week. Firstly, I was thinking to write something lighter. The European Mobility Week was a perfect excuse. However, the events of the past days, also in Slovenia, didn’t allow me so. I can’t be silent over what is happening. If after the Paris terrorist attacks in January I was thinking how will Schengen seem  in the future, after the last events I am more and more convinced that Schengen, as we know it now, won’t exist any more.

Ostanek berlinskega zidu pred Evropskim parlamentom v Bruslju (Vir: (c) Evropska unija 2014 - Evropski parlament)
A historic residue or a return to the future (Source: (c) European Union 2014 – European Parliament)

In the past week, the news regarding the closing of the internal borders were coming one after another. Germany was the first to reinstall controls on the Austrian border, who then followed and reinstalled the checks with Hungary. Slovakia, the Czech Republic and, unfortunately, Slovenia followed too. All of them said that the checks represent a temporary measure until the situation on the external Schengen border doesn’t come under control.

Formally, the countries can temporary re-establish border checks on internal borders if public safety is in danger. Someone could also argue that the current control is not the same as the control of a “classic” border and that they are just performing reinforced controls, rather than the ones we were used to before Schengen’s existence.

However, already this is enough, as we are sending the wrong message that we permitted to change our fundamental values and habitudes. Someone could say that this is needed if we want to “protect” our country from foreigners. However, this doesn’t stand any rational argument. As no past wall stopped those who wanted to reach their destination, neither these controls will stop the refugees trying to reach their “promised land”.

The current refugee crisis is not Schengen’s fault. It is the consequence of wars in the countries where the refugees are coming from. However, Schengen shares part of the fault for the current situation in the outer Schengen States. The current crisis showed that the system is not correctly shaped and that it needs improvements. It is impossible that the border countries have to take all the burden. This burden should be equally shared among all of them. This means that the border security and checks should fall under the direct competence of the EU rather than its Member States. We are always saying that the countries should better collaborate among them. Unfortunately, it was shown too many times that they can’t, don’t know how or just don’t want to collaborate.

The Schengen as we know it till yesterday doesn’t exist any more. Now the countries how to decide how to continue and they have only two possibilities. The full dismantlement, that would lead to times of long queues, limited circulation within our continent and useless isolation, or the final completion of a true and fully operating common space with a common external border under supranational control, that will guarantee an equal control and protection of it. There is no middle way. The middle way has been existing for the past 20 years. And this way proved to be completely inadequate.

Avtor: Grega Jug

Diplomant evropskih študij in magister diplomacije (z magistrsko nalogo na temo konzularne dejavnosti EU). V preteklosti že pripravnik in začasni tiskovni predstavnik v Informacijski pisarni Evropskega parlamenta v Ljubljani, trenutno delam v osrednjem informacijskem centru Evropske unije EUROPE DIRECT v Bruslju. Velik ljubitelj evropskega povezovanja, ki ga skuša gledati s kritično distanco (čeprav ravno vedno ne uspe :). Poleg EU sem tudi velik ljubitelj TV serij in vsega kar je z njimi povezano.

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