Current Challenges to Schengen Area
On the 26th April 2016 in Brussels, the European Parliament’s Former Members Association (FMA) held a seminar on the current challenges to the Schengen area. The legal and economic issues of Schengen were brought up during this seminar. The complete briefing is available online.
Legal Analyst of the Citizens’ Policies Unit at EP research service Alexandra Gatto said that according to the survey, passport-free mobility was one of the most important accomplishments of the EU. This includes police cooperation and the exchange of data within the borders. The current challenge to the Schengen area occurred, when seven out of 26 states reintroduced their internal border control for six months. This critical point was reached due to security concerns and structural challenges. Functioning of Schengen is interlaced with the rest of the migration law and asylum policy, but the member states did not evenly applied the acquis on this issues, which resulted in the current problem.
There are three scenarios for further developments. According to the optimistic one, by the 12th of May Schengen returns to its previous status without internal border controls. Another scenario is that the Council may adopt recommendations and advise the Member States to reintroduce border controls in critical areas (e.g. airports, ports). The third scenario, which is suggested by academia and practitioners, is a comprehensive reform of Schengen, like it was already introduced in 2013.
Policy Analyst of the European Added Value Unit Pierre Goudin explained economic consequences in case of failing to solve current challenges. According to OECD, economic benefits of Schengen lead to the annual increase of the GDP up to 2%. As a consequence of rolling back the Schengen System for 2 years, the costs for reestablishment of borders, administrative costs and losses for business total between 2-5 EUR billion per year. The durable suspension of the Schengen area (up to 10 years) would cost 100-230 EUR billion.
Summarizing, President of FMA and former President of the European Parliament Enrique Barón Crespo addressed critical points from the audience towards Schengen: “Every country has its problems, but the main thing is that we share the will to solve them,” he said.