Europe's Other "Union" Is Ending

Tyler Durden's picture

Almost a year ago, we observed the first crack in that other fundamental core of the European "union" experiment - the Schengen visa-free and customs-union zone. We wrote: "While Europe may have sold its soul to the [monetary union] devil over the past decade it still retained its beating heart - the concept that served at the core of the European Union: the so-called customs union, or a mobile, borderless workforce. Alas, the heart has just entered ventricular fibrillation, as for the first time, a country, Denmark, has taken what appears to be the first step toward defecting from Europe's 60 year old experiment of intimate, and sometimes, forceful unification. As EUBusiness reports: "Denmark will reintroduce controls at its intra-EU borders with Germany and Sweden, Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said Wednesday following an agreement between the government and the far-right. "We have reached agreement on reintroducing customs inspections at Denmark's borders as soon as possible," Hjort Frederiksen told reporters."

It was also then that we predicted the inevitable rise of the right (as demonstrated most vividly a week ago in the French presidential election) in Europe and its implications on the cohesiveness of the transnational European state:

"And while Denmark is the first to officially defect, even under a palatable explanation, it surely won't be the last: "The idea of controls at borders within the EU, also defended by Italy and France, was pressed by the far-right Danish People's Party and its head Pia Kjaersgaard, who argued controls would counter illegal immigration and organised crime." One thing we have seen in Europe is that courtesy of the relentless ebb of austerity, the far-right is progressively gaining a foothold in every country. And one can be certain that the populist whiplash against all things European, will not be contained to merely the monetary arena, but will rapidly devolve to restoring borders, following which the EU will exist only in history books."

This was in May 2011, and looking back at the Denmark case, we would call it the beginning of the end. A week ago, Spiegel had a very poignant follow up on this story, which unfortunately will have a sad ending:

Germany and France are serious this time. During next week's meeting of European Union interior ministers, the two countries plan to start a discussion about reintroducing national border controls within the Schengen zone. According to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and his French counterpart, Claude Guéant, have formulated a letter to their colleagues in which they call for governments to once again be allowed to control their borders as "an ultima ratio" -- that is, measure of last resort -- "and for a limited period of time." They reportedly go on to recommend 30-days for the period.


Of course, using catchphrases like "ultima ratio" and "limited period of time" is supposed to make such policies sound reasonable and proportionate. After all, the reasoning goes, it's just a few occasional border controls for up to 30 days. What's the big deal, right?


But the proposal is far from harmless and would throw Europe back decades. Since 1995, the citizens of Schengen-zone countries have gotten used to freely traveling within Continental Europe. Next to the euro common currency, free movement is probably the strongest symbol of European unity. Indeed, for many people, it's what makes this abstract idea tangible in the first place.

And the Spiegel punchline:

To throw this achievement into doubt now is a vote of no confidence in Europe.

Yet while the Spiegel story discussed some indefinite event in the future as the first catalyst of the "temporary" unwind of Schengen, we now know just what it is. From the Associated Press:

Spain temporarily restored border checks in its northeast and at two major airports early Saturday in a bid to discourage protesters entering the country ahead of a European Central Bank meeting in Barcelona.


The Catalan regional capital is to host an ECB governing council assembly on May 3 as the financial crisis in Spain deepens, with 24.4 percent of the work force unemployed and the economy lurching into its second recession in three years.


Spanish authorities suspended the Schengen Treaty, which allows unrestricted travel inside member nations, and imposed controls at six border crossings with France and at Barcelona and Gerona international airports.


Security forces have been strengthened with 2,000 extra police on duty until midnight on May 4, when the restrictions are due to end.


At the La Jonquera border crossing in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, around 50 police reinforced normal border guards and randomly stopped vehicles to ask for identity and vehicle documents.

Once again, the official version:

The office of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on its official website that the text of the Schengen agreement states that free movement of people in borderless Europe can be stopped temporarily "if a serious threat to public order or domestic security exists."

Ah yes, because there have never been high level summits in Spain before that needed border closing to protect the participants from "riotous elements."

Here is the real reason - Spanish unemployment:

What today's news of out Spain means is that just like French discontent with economic policies is starting to have direct consequences in the form of a rapid shift to the right, so Spain is now too beginning to shut its borders to all those other visa-free traveling Europeans who are "poaching" jobs from the locals. Whether or not they are, is irrelevant (and as we showed yesterday, even when threatening job influx is a moot point - recall that Mexicans are now emigrating from the US -  US companies opt to hire foreigners over locals in a 3 to 1 ratio).

What is relevant is that very soon more and more political leaders who are helpless to do anything to prevent their economic collapse under the rigidity of a monetary regime that benefits one at the expense of all else, will proceed to close their borders to free European travel, then the European customs unions will fall, and then finally Europe will be nothing but a loose collection of countries that hate not only each other but the minorities that dwell within, all in one big agenda to scapegoating someone else for the failure of the world's most destructive economic experiment.

Sadly this won't be the first time that Europe has had a continent-wide effort at isolating and blaming someone "else" for all the world's problems.

In the meantime, we suggest readers save a copy of this "map" of what Europe was supposed to be. As a memento. Because the current iteration of peak-Europe is coming to a rapid end as more and more "votes of no confidence" in Europe reverberate from countries near and far.

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CPL's picture

Boom.  Head shot.

AldousHuxley's picture

Union means 1 party becomes subservient to another to avoid fighting with each other against greater evil.


You can't have all quarterback wannbes in a football team nor can you have just benchwarmers waiting for someone else to do the hard lifting.


Europe has a German quarterback, and everyone else is sitting on the bench while Chinese have player skill depth to 10x.


German had good governance in order to pay WWII debts. Meanwhile other countries just fucked around and turned into tourist history museum. Watch out....Germans have history of running over her neighbors with military technology. only thing keeping them in check is American boots on the ground. Otherwise, Germany would have invaded Greece already.

Ghordius's picture

Officially it's temporary, they want to keep protesters out before the ECB meeting in Barcelona on May 3rd. Hilarious, suspend (as provided for per treaty) one treaty so that protesters can't reach their protests against another treaty.

Note in the article: "Antisistemistas"! Now that's a catchy label, AntiSystemist.... Haven't seen it much yet...

debtor of last resort's picture

Fuck you asshole

want a smoke?

nmewn's picture

Well, at least here (so far) I can go to Georgia if I want, for whatever reason or no reason at all. And not pass through

"The office of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on its official website that the text of the Schengen agreement states that free movement of people in borderless Europe can be stopped temporarily "if a serious threat to public order or domestic security exists."

Seig Heil...glad all the "best & brightest" most competent, most enlightened got it all sorted out...finally ;-)

DutchR's picture

Cool trick to get more money to Amsterdam, start the "wietpas" in the south (Limburg, Noord-Brabant en Zeeland) and then evaluate (2013) if it works or not.

And they want the cannabis users to register on a list so the city can check if they are legit-smokers, never mind the muppits working for the government that smoke....


And just because it is prohibited people stop doing it, right......

The Reich's picture

For the last 67 years in Germany there has been a permanent mind control to subpress agressive behaviour. There is not the slightest intention to have another war in Yrope. That's just a long-cherished British flight of fancy.

Lednbrass's picture

Probably correct, todays Germans certainly seem to be even paler, weaker shadows of their forebearers then the average American. Its a sad state of affairs. 

moskov's picture

Germany should Team up with China and Russia to establish a Euroasia union of currency peg. That will leave Anglo Saxon in the real pain

disabledvet's picture

We're just a bunch of fun loving Scots. Lighten up!

disabledvet's picture

Hahahaha! What you smoking'? "Germany" isn't invading a whorehouse...let alone Greece. If Greece can just work out its issues on its own it'll be okay...not fine, but okay. Don't kid yourself... open borders are HARMED by austerity not helped. Let a "soft nationalism" emerge..."this is life." the..."Germans" (which ones are you speaking of?) I would spite of their contra temps towards Spain...would be the first to agree.

philipat's picture

Why would they have an Indonesian flag in this diagramme. To the best of my knowledge Indonesia is not a member of the Schengen area?! Poland is, but that flag is, ahem, bottoms up!!

Börjesson's picture

That's probably the flag of Monaco.

zilverreiger's picture

actually europe was pretty right wing and is now turning left again which will destroy all the bs

Setarcos's picture

Uh!?  Seems that you are a victim of the topsy-turvy propaganda that prevailed in the US since soon after WW2, which makes it nigh on impossible to discuss anything political/ideological with most people in the US.

It is almost guaranteed that the terms 'liberal', 'socialist, 'progressive', etc. will be stood on their head to equate with 'fascist', i.e. right-wing in any intelligible discourse.  Truly Orwellian.

Liberal = dictatorial.  Socialist = authoritarian.  Progressive = regressive.  And of course Obama, Bernanke and whole raft of other fascists are liberal-progressive-communists.

FYI Sweden, especially, serves as an example of European socialism, or 'leftist' type of government ... well it did until the general drift to the 'right' took hold from the 1980s.

France was also 'leftist', but now there is a strong 'rightist' trend.

Personally I always been inclined towards the 'left', e.g. my views have always been fairly liberal/tolerant and egalitarian, but that's beside the point, except for making it obvious to me that the 'West', generally, has become iincreasingly illiberal, intolerant and unequal over the last twenty-odd years, i.e. it has drifted to the 'right' and, now, to the point that it's essentially fascist.  All that's overtly missing, so far, is intense nationalism and accompanying militarism though, arguably, the US long-since comprizes that.

zilverreiger's picture

no, theres a clear move to the left (france, spain) that will be the undoing of the eurozone, and not like the article says to the right

people will not stand for privatising the profit and socializing the debt.

GMadScientist's picture

Right...that's why the socialist candidate in Spain was replaced by the PP candidate recently.

France? Sarkozy lost as many people to Lepen as to Hollande.

Nationalism (of every stripe) is up, not leftism.


zilverreiger's picture

The proof will be in the pudding, but I'm just saying were moving away from the centre right all countries except germany had in the coming and present round of elections. (denmark, netherlands, greece, france, spain) And it will be the end of the eurozone because they will toss the 3% norm out.

Ghordius's picture

Setarcos, I agree, the American Political vocabulary has changed while the European hasn't...

If you you want to explain the european spectrum to someone that knows the Nolan Chart (libertarians usually know it, it's theirs), you'd have to put it so:


1Q Personal Freedom: HIGH / Economic Freedom LOW

US: Left, Liberal, (Democrat*), (Republican*)

EU: Left, Socialist*, Social Democrat*, Liberal Democrat*, PostCommunist*, Labour*


2Q Personal Freedom: HIGH / Economic Freedom HIGH

US: Libertarian, (Democrat*), (Republican*)

EU: Liberal*, Liberal Democrat*, NeoLiberals (dispregiative)


3Q Personal Freedom: LOW / Economic Freedom HIGH

US: Right, Conservative, (Republican*), (Democrat*)

EU: Right, Conservative, Christian Democrat, Tory*


4Q Personal Freedom: LOW / Economic Freedom LOW

US: NeoCons (dispregiative?), (Republican*), (Democrat*)

EU: National Socialist (Nazi), Communist*, Fascist, PostFascist*, Tory*, Labour*


(*) denotes labels to existing & active political parties partecipating to power from time to time


Now please explain to me how it's possible to discuss anything if even the labels become meaningless... talk about not finding your ass without a chart...

Lednbrass's picture

Pretty well charted, in the US this is also sometimes referred to as the "Political Compass". I would add one thing though to round it out in terms of labels used; 4Q US Personal/Economic Freedom low - you should add Progressive, they are the Democratic Party counter to the Republican Neo Cons. Both of  their ideologies center around heavily centralized power and planning, they only quibble over the details enough to make a show of it and fool the idiots.

i-dog's picture

"Republican Neo Cons"

Again...confusion! The NeoCons started out in the Democratic Party, under Henry "Scoop" Jackson, then jumped ship to the Republicans and propelled Nixon into the White House -- in order to retain their position of power behind the scenes. Some, like Richard Perle, are still registered Democrats!

Hillary is one of the last remaining "neocons" in a position of power.

Lednbrass's picture


However, on the Republican side in the US they comprise the largest share of the considerable "Government Uber Alles" crowd in that party.

Personally I just refer to them as Prog-D and Prog-R. In political discussion with friends and family I do infurate some of the repubs though by constantly calling them progressives and counting the myriad ways in which they love Big Brother.

Spitzer's picture

I wonder how long Texas is going to bail out California before talking secession ?

Lucius Cornelius Sulla's picture

California?  How about Illinios, New York and New Jersey?!?!

Lednbrass's picture

I certainly hope not long, if Texas went the dominos in the South would fall fast.  Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina are awash with Northern scum seeking new areas to ruin and would take a little longer but the rest of the Confederacy would follow them very quickly.

CynicLaureate's picture

We Texans have never stopped talking seccession :-)

In fact, there is a small but vocal group who consider the re-annexation of Texas in 1870 to be invalid.  There is even a shadow government that calls itself the "Republic of Texas" who believe we are not legally a part of the USA.

And at least one newspaper in California suggested that Texas be thrown out of the USA...

Sounds like a basis for a divorce to me :-)

ps: Just remember... Texas is a nuclear power!

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

If Texas tried it, it would turn be like Syria today . American warplanes would be in the air before you knew it. Then after that the blue helmets would arrive.

I wonder what would have happened if the UN existed during the US Civil War? Would have kept the two sides apart. Both sides would have been better off. You could keep Bush and oil, we'll trade you wine and technology.

Lednbrass's picture

Well one thing to consider though- the US military is very Southern. It is not homogenous by any stretch, the South is about 30 ish percent of the US population but 42-43% of the military.

Thsi is the 2010 DoD report on the military, see figures 16 and 17-

You can be sure that the large amount of enlistees from Florida arent the grandkids of the Miami retirees, I cant find a breakdown but I would bet that northern Florida is where the recruiting hotbed is. The northeastern states join infrequently and they dont tend to become combat soldiers whereas many Southerners join only to become combat soldiers. If push came to shove the majority of those military types arent going to fight for the Northeastern and Left Coast power structures.

Bush is not any more Southern than Lincoln, they are a Northeastern carpetbagger family. W can put on a cowboy hat, but he still thinks and acts Yankee businessman.

navy62802's picture

Fuck. The US didn't even have 24.44% unemployment at the height of the Great Depression. And the trend in Spanish unemployment isn't looking good. That's just scary.

The Alarmist's picture

The Spanish govt hasn't learned all the tricks of the BLS. What makes you think thing are so rosy here?

falak pema's picture

they have min pay in Europe. 

smiler03's picture

They have minimum wage in the US, Canada & Mexico too. Germany does not. So your point is?

falak pema's picture

the problem of Spain is their banks, not the government spending. Caxa banks and private banks and the  debt mountain of malinvestment in RE.

The people  have to nationalise these banks and rebuild their economy; either the EU has the funds to help this or else Spain leaves the EU and rebuilds from bottom up. But if Spain goes alone it will have to print its own money, devalue and create employment, not destroy minimal wages and create Franco era misery. 

WIthin EU scheme, the eurozone if it survives, has the ability to allow Spain to crawl out of this mess created by private banking, without destroying minimum social protection. That's my point. Either EU goes Keynesian and joint and several or it goes belly up, and its every man for himself. One or the other. But reigning in these sham banks, part of world cabal, is the first step. They caused the Spanish problem. 100%. We have to go to root causes not pander to symptoms.

crawldaddy's picture

actually it did,  and if we still computed unemployment as we did, we would be looking at 20-22% right now ourselves.

boiltherich's picture

Navy, not to disagree with your sentiment, I don't, Spanish prospects are dim and getting worse fast, but the USA did have higher unemployment in the depression though just.

"Based on that research, he was able to generate a mathematical formula to calculate U3 and U6 unemployment for the entire period since 1900. He found that at the peak of the Great Depression, U3 was 25.2%. U6 was 37.6%."


However; I am always upset when people say this is not so bad, back when I was a boy we had TWICE as many people unemployed so this hardly qualifies as a recession no less a depression.  That is like saying once you have had a thousand year record flood on your river mere 500 or 100 year flooding no longer counts as a disaster, just another rainy day when you have water up to your eaves.

We do not have to meet or exceed 1931-2 levels of U-anything to make this a depression, it might not be as bad as the first Great Depression but it is still a depression.  And it might well get as bad or worse than the 1930's when the eurozone hits the wall and disolves, though in my opinion it is the only right track they can take for the long-term health of Europe. 

Ghordius's picture

Navy, my comment about how difficult it is to compare the US and the Spanish numbers are here: -> Differences in Statistics, Familial Economy, Housing and so on.

ebworthen's picture

What is right and left anymore?

Nationalization and polarization to follow regardless of perceived political tilt.

GMadScientist's picture

There's more than one axis.


Ghordius's picture

Exactly, see other comment. And since I'm here: the Danes were closing borders last year, this is just a formalization.

I'm not sure why should a club be ending only because a few customers are exiting parts of the contract - it's a free club, joiners, leavers, no sweat...

Corn1945's picture

I swear I've seen this movie before...

It ended with a German guy with a mustache and a loud Italian fellow...

Uber Vandal's picture

The German guy was from Austria.

The Alarmist's picture

When you think of it, some of the biggest problems of the 20th century were brought to us by Austrians, who included luminaries like Franz Ferdinand, Hitler, Freud, and Schwarzenegger.

Ghordius's picture

Suppose someone has to jump in: Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian School?