Will the European Union’s open border policy hold over time?

In my opinion the kerfuffle started back in 2008 and 2009 when a select few European countries were willing to take in released Guantanamo Bay detainees and others refused. The open border policy between most of Europe is now causing more heartburn, with some countries planning to take a much closer look at people crossing borders.

The original Schengen agreement between 22 European Union states specifically allowed “anyone to cross international borders without undergoing checks.” Of course, you needed to go through the normal border checks when first arriving within the EU, but once in, you were in. That agreement is not sitting so well with some countries since the world political and economic picture has changed.

First up is Denmark, who will be re-instituting border checks within weeks. They are getting fed up with crime and – get this – illegal immigration. So much for “without undergoing checks.”

Denmark is to reintroduce controls at its EU borders with Germany and Sweden in an attempt to curb crime and illegal immigration, ahead of today’s [Thu] meeting in Brussels that will discuss the visa-free Schengen zone. …

Because Denmark is a member of Europe’s visa-free Schengen area, it cannot reinstate full frontier controls, and will still follow European Union rules with its current plan to station customs officers permanently at borders to conduct random checks on vehicles.

“Everything will take place within the limits of Schengen,” the minister [Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the finance minister] said.

“Over the past few years we have seen an increase in trans-border crime, and this is designed to curb the problem. We will be building new facilities at the Danish-German border, with new electronic equipment and number-plate identifiers,” he said.

Illegal immigration? If “travelers” legally enter Germany or Sweden, how can Denmark claim an illegal immigration problem? Maybe they are claiming the “travelers” are entering Germany or Sweden illegally and those countries are not dealing with the problem?

Denmark certainly seems uncomfortable with the original Schengen agreement, and a war-of-words has been brewing farther south between Italy and Spain in reference to immigrants from riot and war-torn Tunisia and Libya. Mark Styen over at The Corner highlights the problem as written in the Telegraph article.

Passport-free travel across the ‘Schengen’ area, which does not include Britain or Ireland, has come under unprecedented pressure after Italy gave residence permits to more than 25,000 Arabs last month, allowing them unfettered access to the rest of the EU.

And that’s the kerfuffle. Some of the 22 EU countries are not at all too happy about other EU countries opening their own border which directly effects other members.

The fate of thousands of stranded Tunisian migrants bearing temporary residence permits remained unclear on Tuesday as activists vowed to challenge the French authorities’ refusal to let them cross the border from Italy. Their campaign came amid an increasingly bitter diplomatic spat that deepened when France temporarily suspended a rail link to prevent a train carrying Tunisians and pro-migrant protesters from entering French territory.

Several migration experts contacted by France24.com said that the Italian-delivered permits would not be sufficient to reach France, where many Tunisian migrants have family or friends. But they warned that the move’s legality was “confusing”, forcing Paris to tread a fine line between intensifying border checks and respecting the European principle of free movement enshrined in the Schengen treaty.

Of course, the article mentions ethnic profiling, with activists vowing to sue for discrimination.

I’m also curious about how Greece’s economic crisis is playing throughout the European Union. With EU agreements in place, the economic troubles in Greece – which had a national debt of more than $400 billion 12 months ago (113 percent of GDP) – were soon to spill over to the entire EU.

Greece’s debt problem has caused the value of the euro to plunge this week.

Fx trading professionals have suggested that the currency dropped to a six-week low against the yen today (May 10th 2011) in part due to the European Union’s (EU) inability to handle the deficit issues of Greece, as well as the decline in oil prices.

The euro dropped to its lowest level since March 28th, coming in at Y114.77 against the yen and $1.4272 against the US dollar.

16 replies
  1. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Thanks for this post, Steve.? Just a few comments:
    1.? This?issue perhaps?became excacerbated by the taking in of Gitmo “detainees,” but, the essence of the immigrant problem started decades ago when Europe turned socialist.? The policies of “multi-culturalism” were heavily embraced over here, and millions of people poured in as border controls evaporated.? The ruling governments had purely political motives (imo) – which were (like in the States) to foster a future voting block of support for socialist leaders, as European agencies provided practically unlimited financial and social support.? Many of these new arrivals were from Moslem backgrounds, but we Europeans also welcomed such wonderful contributors to society as Eastern European mafia, vicious gangs, thugs and violent criminals of all types.?
    2.? It was easy for potential immigrants to find a country and border crossing with lax requirements.? Then, it only took a few months to get residency, and they could travel freely throughout the entire European Union, many choosing countries to live in that afforded them the most social benefits.
    3.? Time?went by, and anti-immigration murmuring began, mostly directed at Moslems.? As?fundmentalist, Islamic communities flourished in countries like the UK and France, a sort of “muted panic” then set in.? Demands such as the implementation of Sharia law, the realization that certain mosques were nurturing Al-Qaida recruits, and that Moslem communities were expanding at somewhat alarming rates, with many living off the state, has made this panic more vocal.? Just social benefits alone have proved to be a huge burden, especially on small countries like the UK.? Then there is the additional, underlying threat of terrorist attacks.
    4.? France is an interesting case study on how popular concern over immigration has now taken on a political voice in Maire Le Pen.? She is the daughter of the former National Front leader, an extreme right wing politician who was marginalized for years due to his anti-semetic and racial views.? His daughter has taken over leadership of the party, dialed down the rhetoric, and is charming the French electorate, especially with her stance against immigration.
    5.?There are many hard-working immigrants in Europe, of all backgrounds and faith, who contribute to the societies they live in.? However, blanket policies of open?immigration have?contributed?to the destruction of European culture, not to mention the moral and economic bankruptcing of institutions that were set up to help those who were truly persecuted in their own countries and those with a genuine yearning to improve the lot of themselves and their families.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Open immigration is like entropy: just as all things eventually revert to their lowest energy state, so will countries with open borders revert to their lowest economic state.

  2. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Steve, regarding the economic crisis in many European countries, it is very complicated.? The Euro “zone” is just a ridiculous concept, in my opinion.? How can countries like Greece and Portugal, with totally different cultures, education, HEAT (siestas exist for a reason), economic viabilities, entrenched and extensive bureacracies, compete on a level playing field with the likes of Germany and France????? And how can different, internal?political systems agree on solutions to these problems??
    Brussels (controling center of the EU)?poured money into these poorer countries, as loans, forcing them to come up to western european standards,? and is partially responsible for their current debt situation, in my opinion.? Though one hears little to nothing about this.? It’s easier for politicians in Portugal and Greece to blame bankers?and?speculating traders.? Not to say these factors didn’t augment the current debt situation, but they certainly didn’t cause it:?that was caused by gvts and individuals going into an abyss of debt.
    Many EU members are not at all happy with bailing out the likes of Greece and Portugal, and one can hardly blame them.? Meanwhile, the euro is being unbelievably, and artifically?manipulated to stay high, in my opinion.? Don’t know if the European Union will survive much longer in current form…hope it doesn’t!!!

  3. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    gillie28, why on earth would you hope for the demise of the EU? As to differences in culture, why pick on that? Seems like the “culture” of the South in the US is different from that of NE. And what about Mountain States and AZ/NM, and so on? We still have cultural/regional differences after 100 years of being 48 states, never mind AK and HI.

    • GdavidH
      GdavidH says:

      Sammy, to a point I agree with you. The EU has made it much more efficient to trade and travel throughout Europe, and there is a certain comparison to be made about the unity of cultural differences in the U.S.? The important?difference is the size and scope of the centralized governance in the EU as compared to the US. If the EU fails it will be a blip on the screen, and things will revert back to the status of the 20th century. The failure of the US would be catastrophic to the globe.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Can? you seriously compare the cultural/historical/language differences between the member states of the EU and the states of the US?? Maybe you could, if the US states had all been autonomous for hundreds of years, then suddenly tried to combine.

  4. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    I addressed the “cultural” comment by gillie28, only! Not the historical/language issues alluded to by Dims. And, my money is on the EU not failing. No one in the EU, or the rest of Europe would want to revert to the 20th Century (WWI and WWII, the Spanish Civil War etc.), or worse, the previous century.

  5. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Sammi, thanks for your comment and I’ll respond the best I can. F1rst. history, language, dialects and many other elements are a part of a nation’s culture.? Second, the EU central control has shown itself to?be very remote (and I don’t mean in distance) from most of the countries to which they dictate policy.? It has become a huge, top-heavy bureacracy, with legendary nepotistism and corruption (hey, insert “UN wannabe”), and which favors certain countries above others.??

    The EU?lays down laws and policies that may work for one country, but not for another and expect ALL of them to comply.? Let me give you an example of one of those STUPID policies that cost an enormous amount of time and money here in Portugal: the immediate relabelling of EVERY product in EVERY supermarket to include contents in many EU languages (of course not in English because the EU central control hates the British because they still haven’t changed their currency to the euro!!!).
    Here’s another one:? Portugal is required to import potatoes and other vegetables from other EU? countries, when the ones they produce here are not only sufficient for the needs of the country, but also delicious.? When it comes to agricultural products, France rules supreme.? Other countries which previously were producing beef, lamb, etc. etc. were required to reduce the amount in order that France could benefit – same for fishing.? This policy has especially affected the UK, which is not the great agriculural producer that it was before joining (albeit in limited manner).? And how about the?, as you can see, are?nit-picking, dumb?and onerous.
    Europe is NOT one nation – never was and never will be.? The warfare that existed between nations here has not ceased, just become sublimated into power struggles for economic supremacy and control.? Remember, the union has never really been tested until recently, and already it is starting to fragment into diverse groups of opinions.? Once thoughts are spoken, can action be far behind????

  6. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    oops, something got erased….it was another example of the ridiculousness of some policies.? The grocer in the UK who was prosecuted and almost went to jail for providing his customers with weights and measures in pounds, ounces as well as in kilos.? This was because he had older people coming into the store who hadn’t a clue how to calculate the metric system (I can identify!!!).

  7. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    sammy: but might they want to revert to the time immediately prior to the EU setup vs. postwar Europe etc?? Considering some of the recent developments in PIGS, many might, although I would suspect that many of the problems with these countries existed prior to the EU.
    I don’t think the cultural gap between regions of the US is anywhere nearly as great as that seen between EU members.? Except perhaps where illegals are overrunning the area…

  8. ricbee
    ricbee says:

    The EU does make things easier,but also more expensive for all. It will crumble,or rather IS crumbling. A bad idea come to its’ end,but Brussels will fight all day & all night to hold onto its’? might.

  9. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Of course it is more expensive: it is a layer of government on top of another layer of government!!

  10. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    The EU has grown from “bottom” up from the European Coal and Steel Community, back in the early ’50s. I don’t believe it will “crumble”. It has been having growing pains. Perhaps it has expanded too quickly in recent times to include countries that were not “fiscally” ready for inclusion. The cultural/linguistical differences are still there and probably will remain for the foreseeable future. But, most people (especially the young) are multilingual and that process will continue.?

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