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The Schengen treaty “FALTERS” back to border controls

Sweden and Denmark are also reintroducing border controls on a temporary derogation to Schengen

The immigration emergency due to international crises has repercussions on Europe which has decided another tightening of free movement at the borders. The area of free movement in Europe, the Schengen area, is now considered “in danger” after the decision by Sweden and Denmark to close the borders to the flow of migrants. Both Stockholm and Copenhagen have in fact decided to reintroduce border controls. Including those on the tens of thousands of Danish commuters who cross the Oresund bridge every day between the two countries. The stated objective is to reduce the number of refugees arriving in Sweden. A real cultural upheaval for one of the European countries that has always been considered a bastion of freedom but that perhaps, for this very reason, represents one of the most sought-after destinations for refugees. Only in 2015, in fact, Stockholm received requests for asylum from 150,000 people.

A similar decision to that of Sweden and Denmark was also taken by four other countries: Norway, Austria, Germany and France. And, apparently, even Italy would be ready to re-establish border controls with Slovenia. Although the suspension of the Schengen agreements is only temporary, the leaders of the European Union are beginning to be worried about this situation, because they fear for the fate of Schengen and its principles of freedom of movement.

Schengen area Blue EU, light blue NO EU, yellow outside Schengen area, orange candidate Schengen area

But what is Schengen?

Many ignore the origins, history and rules of the Schengen treaty, which has become the symbol of a united Europe without borders, allowing for the free movement of people. After the two devastating world wars, it took many years to abolish borders, guarantee security and strengthen confidence. The creation of the Schengen area has been one of the main achievements of the EU. Schengen has mainly abolished checks on people at the internal borders of Europe, but not only: the agreement provides for the application of common rules and procedures regarding visas, short stays, asylum requests and border controls and also the strengthening of cooperation and coordination between police services and judicial authorities.

Schengen area explained

It therefore guarantees the right to free movement and to a stay unrelated to work reasons. Citizens of the acceding States are therefore free to cross the borders of a Member State without having to submit to any control unless justified by reasons of public order and national security. Currently, 26 countries, 22 from the European Union and four from outside the Union are members: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtestein. Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia are part of the European Union and not of Schengen. The United Kingdom and Ireland are only involved in a few aspects relating to police and judicial cooperation and have therefore maintained border controls.

The Schengen treaty is now at the center of discussions, second thoughts and controversies due to the complex management of the millions of migrants and refugees fleeing the South and the East of the world who are trying to enter Europe and with it, it seems, with border controls reintroduced by Sweden and Denmark, seriously threatening what the German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer called “one of the greatest results in the EU in recent years”.

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