One consequence of the mass immigration of refugees that Europe is experiencing is the demise of the Schengen treaty. The Schengen treaty is one of the most effective instruments in realising the concept of the Single Market. It is important as it puts into practice one of the basic principles on which the Single Market is based – the free movement of people and products. It is because of Schengen that we do not need passports as long as we travel inside the Schengen Area. Moreover, transportation of goods is also without hassle.
The first is advantageous to people as they would not need to experience the long queues to have their passport checked. This is particularly an advantage when one is travelling for a holiday as such delays are very irritating and tend to be viewed negatively as it is another administrative hurdle to your holiday. For businesses it is also advantageous as cross border trade is usually much simpler, thus less costly both in terms of money and also in terms of time. Time is particularly important as good planning would enable a just-in-time system to be put in place saving large storage expenses of goods.
The present crisis that Europe is facing re immigration is nowadays many a time also attributed to the Schengen treaty by countries that are facing large inflows of immigrants through their country. But is this a fair assessment?
I believe that the crisis is not due to Schengen but to the lack of preparation on the part of the EU to face large inflows of immigrants. One need not have a long memory to remember that as long as these immigrants were only affecting a small number of countries – the countries of the Mediterranean – the other countries were not much interested in this issue as they used to view it as a sub regional problem.
Once it hit the Central European countries, suddenly the same problem became a European one. For example, the Hungarians are blaming Schengen as the problem whereas the free movement provided by Schengen provided the means for the inflow to be spread easily. One only needs to imagine if the same shameful attitude that the Hungarians are taking were to be adopted. The whole downpour of immigrants would have not only hit Greece but Greece would have had to deal with the whole problem by itself.
Personally, I find the attitude of the ex-communist bloc countries to this problem disgraceful. Hungary, for example, should know better as one only has to remember the 50s when thousands flew to Austria to escape the Soviet tanks. Would they have been happy and understanding if during that time Austria took the same attitude and built up a wall to prevent the Hungarians from entering Austria? The same applies to Poland and the other Baltic region states. These, apart from the UK, are the countries who are opposing fervently the allocation of these migrants through a quota system.
One point that is also being missed out in the discussion of this problem is the involvement of the Arab states. One question that needs to be asked is why these immigrants are not seeking asylum in the Arab countries? But this question leads to others which for many are more vexatious to answer especially since these are considered as pro Western. The answer is simply that these Arab states are more radical in their attitude and endeavour to implement the Sharia in their country similar to what ISIS is doing.
The problem that Europe is facing today is not the Schengen treaty but the lack of preparedness of the European Union, extreme nationalism (See Facebook), the abandonment of the peace process (see inews), continuous supply of arms and the abandonment of the peace process in the Middle East.