As the nCoV strain spread rapidly, many European countries re-control their borders, threatening the policies of freedom of movement for which they are proud.
The borderless system for the transport and transport of goods, called Schengen, was established through a treaty signed in the town of the same name in Luxembourg in 1985, between five countries located in the heart of the European Union. (EU) at present. The Schengen region now consists of 22/27 EU member states, along with four neighboring countries Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The birth of the Schengen region is considered the pinnacle of close links between the EU countries, besides the eurozone. After 35 years, the system has undergone a transformation and becomes deeper. However, like many other EU aspirations towards unity, Schengen became vulnerable in the midst of crises.
“I have been dealing with Schengen for many years, and my biggest concern is that the system is in serious jeopardy,” said Tanja Fajon, a Slovenian member of the European Parliament, head of the monitoring team. Schengen, said.
In the past decade, terrorist attacks in the EU, along with rebels exploiting Schengen’s freedom to move from country to country, have exposed the fact that co-operation law enforcement and Intelligence sharing does not keep pace with European border openings.
In the 2015-2016 period, the “landing” of more than a million refugees fleeing from war, poverty in the Middle East and North Africa dealt an even more severe blow to Schengen. Many member states that do not want to share the burden have increased border control, isolating themselves and using countries in the fringes, such as Greece and Italy, as “barriers” against the influx of refugees.
The impact of the refugee crisis is said to have marked a structural change in Europe’s border policy. A borderless region, once a fine ideal of solidarity, success and freedom, has received increasing criticism from the right and is seen as a threat.
Even moderate politicians have begun to see European boundaries as necessary, despite decades of efforts to break them. “Freedom of movement is a symbol of the cohesion of Europe, the most tangible result of cooperation, something everyone can really feel. But now, not only is the pandemic threatening it, that the Schengen crisis started in 2015, “Fajon said.
The seemingly unstoppable spread of the nCoV strain is dealing a third blow to the dream of open borders in Europe. Despite the European Commission’s efforts to persuade countries to not restrict freedom of movement, with the view that “closing borders does not prevent viruses” but also causing major problems, many countries still imposed restrictions on new frontiers, amid concerns about nCoV strains from Britain and South Africa.
“We are fighting genetically modified viruses on the border with the Czechs and Austria. The European Commission should support us and not insert any statement into the wheel, with invalid recommendations,” the minister said. German Interior Horst Seehofer responded to a recent interview.
“The Schengen is not a system with great resilience to the crisis. It works under favorable conditions, but when pressure comes, flaws and gaps in the way of operation appear. Covid-19 is a good example, “said Marie De Somer, expert at the Center for European Policy, a research institute in Belgium.
De Somer said the Schengen system is flexible, because countries have complete control over their sovereign borders. “But the biggest threat is that these measures still exist even though they are no longer intended, damaging the Schengen system, making it difficult for countries to restore open border states after the crisis has passed.” , this expert said.
One factor that could help keep the frontier open is the vast and immediate economic impact that has come about even with a small-scale shutdown. As of February 21, subjects are allowed to enter Germany from the Czech Republic or the Tyrol region of Austria, where the number of cases of British nCoV infection is increasing, including only German nationals residing in Germany, carrying commodity or do essential jobs in this country. All are required to register and present negative results to nCoV prior to entry.
However, thousands of people in Austria and Czechs are working every day in Germany. After the new rule was enforced, long lines of people began to form. Many business groups have written urgent letters asking Germany to loosen or lift restrictions, and at the same time warn of the dangers of supply chains that are being destroyed.
Even so, observers argue that even with most Europeans vaccinated and Covid-19 under control, Schengen’s future could still be controversial. The European Commission is proposing changes that would fundamentally make it harder for member states to impose barriers.
Meanwhile, a number of French-led countries advocate that the borders around the Schengen area need to be impenetrable if they want to maintain freedom of movement within the bloc. This idea, often referred to as “Fort Europe”, comes with a proposal to scale up surveillance at internal borders to replace physical barriers.
Fajon says the debate about Schengen’s future continues, but she sees young people in Europe as important supporters of the policy in the long run.
“Young people are saying that the Covid-19 crisis caused them to experience the feeling of living in a border Europe for the first time. So they have come to appreciate a free commuter area,” Fajon said.
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