UPDATE 02/03/2016: Eight of the twenty-six countries in the passport-free zone have re-introduced border checks since September 2015. The lack of solidarity between EU Member States in the face of an unprecedented migrant crisis has drawn condemnation from NGOs and aid agencies, who warn that a humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Greece.
There are currently 24,000 people in need of shelter in Greece, many of them on the border with Macedonia, and an estimated 2,000 people are arriving every day, yet Western Balkan countries have sealed their borders at the urging of Austria, which does not wish to become a transit hub for refugees heading to Germany. Greece, which is already struggling to implement an austerity programme and cut public debt, warns that it will simply be unable to cope with the massive build-up of refugees on its territory if they are not allowed to continue their journey onwards. Can the Schengen zone survive?
ORIGINAL 10/05/2015: 2015 marked thirty years since the Schengen Agreement was first signed. Today, most Europeans are used to driving or taking a train between EU Member States effortlessly, without the hassle of queuing for passport checks and border controls. There are exceptions – Ireland and the UK have both opted-out of Schengen – and some countries are yet to join, but a borderless union is seen as one of the greatest achievements of the European dream.
However, Europe’s borders – both internal and external – have never been under as much pressure as they are right now. Recent weeks have seen several Member States reintroduce temporary border controls in an effort to cope with the scale of the ongoing refugee crisis. Is an agreement signed in the 1980s still relevant for the challenges of the 21st Century?
Is the dream of a borderless Europe failing? Could differences over the future of Schengen end up tearing the EU apart? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!