N. Peter Kramer’s weekly column
Border controls are no longer an exception at EU’s internal borders. Travelling through the EU without showing a passport was completely normal, several generations don’t know better. But the old phenomenon is back. Eleven member states have again stationed customs and police officers at the internal borders of the so-called Schengen area. Slovakia announced recently that it would extend internal border controls. Other countries decided to position border guards within Schengen for longer.
The failing EU migration policy is being used by the eleven countries to abolish the EU’s main principle of free movement of people, goods and services. EU agency Frontex counted 331.600 irregular arrivals at the EU’s external borders in the first ten months of this year, the highest number since 2015, when the migration crisis started. The border controls are also problematic for truckers. They have to wait hours and hours at the border. That means extra consumption of expensive diesel, changing drivers if waiting times become too long, all extra costs for the transport companies.
The Schengen Code allows temporary border controls ‘as a last resort’ and they may not last longer than two months, in specific cases six months. But between Germany and Austria, for example, the checks have been in place for much longer. Schengen countries are flouting the rules. ‘Every two months they come up with a new reason to extend border controls’, an EU official said.
The European Commission, the guardian of EU treaties, never disapproves border controls. This week it did call to limit disruption as much as possible and to opt for mobile controls. Nobody is expecting any serious reaction of member states. What is the Schengen Treaty still worth?