“Civilised Europeans could indeed transcend boundaries – but the ‘barbarians’ would be kept resolutely beyond them.”

In the Irish Times Arthur Beesley suggests that the outcome of any review of the Schengen Agreement, as recently called for by France and Italy, will lead to tighter controls of external EU borders – at a time when non-EU countries, particularly in northern Africa,  face increasing civil unrest.  From the Irish Times report

…temporary [internal EU] border controls can already be introduced under the existing regime.

All that is required to waive the rules for 30 days is the declaration of a “serious threat” to public order or internal security. However, member states must themselves decide what constitutes such a threat.

These provisions have never been invoked due to fear of tit-for-tat manoeuvres, leading to the implosion of the wider system.

It follows that any new measures are likely to codify in detail how the Schengen system might be suspended in practice and how such suspensions should be lifted as well. First sight of the commission’s thinking will come tomorrow in a communique on migration policy generally, but legislative proposals are some time off as of yet.

That this is messy from a political perspective is obvious, for member states are deeply divided within and among themselves over migration. Moreover, the Franco-Italian case makes clear that there are two sides to every border story.

One thing is certain, however. Any Schengen overhaul will not make it appreciably easier to enter Europe.

In his book Postwar, historian Tony Judt described the Schengen system as Europe’s “greatest transnational achievement” of the 1970s and 1980s but noted the reinforcement of its external frontiers. “Civilised Europeans could indeed transcend boundaries – but the ‘barbarians’ would be kept resolutely beyond them.” Quite.

We might find out tomorrow, Wednesday 4 May.  In the meantime, whatever happened to that reasoned discussion on Ireland, or the UK, joining Schengen?

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  • joeCanuck

    There are problems indeed but it would be a disgrace if Europe denied succour to genuine refugees.

  • Fionn Og Mor McComhain

    RTE Regenertion specialist Miriam x gave reason to idiocy tonight when she ridiculed the irish minister for social housing and described the Residents of St Thereas’ Gardens,South Dublin,neighbour of St Micheals Mistake,Dolphins Barn,Marrowbone Lane,and many many more,too many too mention,as Refugees in their own Country.A biologist said that the levels of ‘shit’ in the clean water was 14,000 times more toxic than the legal EU levels.

    There are problems indeed but it would be a disgrace if Europe denied succour to genuine refugees.For this the red poppies danced.

  • Cynic2

    The problem is that one man’s refugee is another’s economic migrant

  • joeCanuck

    Cynic 2,

    That’s why I said genuine refugees. Shouldn’t be too hard to seperate the sheep from the wolves.