Europe in crisis…
For month we are dealing with the European financial crisis. Greece, Ireland, possibly Spain and Italy, many member states have crucial financial problems. Nationalism arises back on the European floor and citizens question the European Union even more than before. No one can really say how strong the emotional connection between citizens and EU really is. It was always an aim and a problem in the same moment to build a Europe of Citizens. And: politicians always strengthen how important the EU is and that there is only a future with a strong European Union.
Having said all this, one have to wonder why European governments and even the European Commission now start an initiative to deconstruct one of the greatest successes the Europeans have established – the free movement in Europe without borders.
The Schengen Agreement is besides the Euro one of the greatest symbols and achievements in post war European history. Now the European Commission has brought forward a proposal that gives member states the power to reinstall border controls for a limited period of time.
The European Parliament must stay tough
The Hufftington Post (UK edition) gave a very good brief overview about the facts and figures. Here you can find the proposal from the European Commission as well as a report to that proposal by Romanian MEP Renate Weber. She and the responsible committee of the EP voted, as Hufftington Post reported, in favor of the report which argues against the possibility reinstalling border controls.
The legislative process in Europe says that both European Parliament and Council of Ministers – the representation of the national governments – have to agree on the Commissions proposal. The vote in the EPs committee was one first good signal. But that does not mean that Schengen is save. We have heard voices in the member states, even when based on electoral rhetoric, that argue in favor of limited border controls. Governments from France and Germany are the so called motor of European integration. This makes it even more absurd that especially those to countries came up with the idea to reestablish timely limited border controls.
Again: for many Europeans money and free traveling is the first thing they connect with an integrated Europe. If we start to deconstruct these issues, we don’t have to discuss about a Europe of Citizens any longer. It would be a huge step back in European integration and a horrible political symbol for the citizens.
To put the axe on the freedom of movement is the last thing that helps Europe in these crucial times. What the EU nowadays needs is not a step back to renationalized politics but to a more integrated and open Europe. That governments have not understood that historic lesson for the 21st century in Europe is not only very sad but also very depressing.