EU's Founding Treaty To Be "Reconsidered", Seeking End To Passport-Free Travel

Between the French (Interior Minister Cazeneuve: "we're face with a new kind of terrorism", and Hungary (PM Orban: "allowing people into our own back yard" who may then commit acts of terrorism was irresponsible), AP reports that the EU's founding treaty with regard to passport-free travel - the so-called Schengen Agreement - is to be reformed. "We want Europe, which has lost too much time on a certain number of questions, to note the urgency and take decisions today," exclaimed Cazeneuve, with Orban adding "the founding treaty is currently an obstacle to this and I believe it needs to be reconsidered." According to Cazeneuve, the reforms will happen by year-end.

AP reports The Schengen Agreement is to be reformed..

  • *EU SEEKING CHANGE TO PASSPORT-FREE BORDER AREA RULES, AP SAYS

EU ministers have agreed to carry out more stringent controls at the bloc's external borders, in response to the attacks in Paris last week, says Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider.
Member states must fully apply the rules of the border-free Schengen zone to carry out systematic controls on EU citizens at the bloc's external borders, he says, adding, "It's not an option, it's an obligation."
 
The bloc's internal and justice ministers have also requested a strengthening of the existing Schengen rules, he adds.
 
The move is one of several aimed at "considerably reinforcing our tools in the fight against terrorism," Schneider says.
With The French pushing hard...
  • *CAZENEUVE: WE'RE FACED WITH A NEW TYPE OF TERRORISM
  • *CAZENEUVE: FRANCE TO KEEP CONTROLS AS LONG AS THREAT REMAINS
  • *CAZENEUVE: DRAFT SCHENGEN REFORM PLAN SEEN BY YEAR END

On one hand, “we cannot close Europe,” de Maizière said in an interview on Friday with the Washington Post.

But on the other hand, “we cannot open Europe totally for millions and millions of poor people in the world or even for all of those coming from conflict zones. Impossible,” he stated, calling for a change to the European refugee system.

 

Berlin intends to slash cash benefits to refugees, providing them with food instead, and engage in a “reunification of families” practice, promising “years” of efforts to those who would like to bring their relatives to Germany after settling there with refugee status.

 

“The number is too big,” the official said. “It has to be checked.”

And as MTI reports, Hungary's Orban is calling for more aggressive external borders also...

The European Union's founding treaty should be reconsidered, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after meeting Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski on Friday.

 

The prime minister said European should face up to the fact that migrants come from areas involved in military conflict with EU members. "We are considered enemies in those countries, and the acts of terror committed in our areas are considered war successes over there", he said, adding that "allowing people into our own back yard" who may then commit acts of terrorism was irresponsible.

 

The EU should protect its borders, culture, economic interests and its democracy, Orban said.

 

"The founding treaty is currently an obstacle to this and I believe it needs to be reconsidered," Orban said.

 

In order to make Europe effective, basic questions need to be reevaluated, he added. It is increasingly obvious that the EU is capable only of responding to crises rather than taking preventive measures. Citing the Paris terror attacks, he said it was only afterwards that European politicians started assigning security its proper role.

Orban said it was the British who first pushed the issue in connection with the EU's founding treaty, and they want to make changes to European regulations that will be impossible without amending them.

In response to a query about whether he considered the Schengen system dead, similarly to the Dublin agreement, he said "Dublin is dead, Schengen is alive". An increasing number of EU countries neglect the Dublin agreement but everybody is trying to uphold Schengen because if it fails then "walls and fences will rise and border controls will be put in place between countries where they have not been used." The possibility of free travel between Schengen members needs to be maintained, and this is only possible if external Schengen borders are protected, he added.

 

"One should either be a Schengen member and protect its borders or if they do not protect the borders, they should not be a Schengen member," Orban said.

*  *  *

As we detailed repviously, on The Future of Schengen

The European Union probably will not abandon the Schengen Agreement anytime soon. Despite the criticisms, the treaty has reduced the time and cost of moving goods across Europe because trucks no longer have to wait for hours to cross an international border. It also benefits tourists and people living on border towns, because passports and visas are no longer needed. Finally, the agreement allows countries to save money, because governments no longer need to patrol their land borders.

 

The Schengen Agreement will probably be reformed before the end of the decade to make it easier for countries to reintroduce border controls. The first step in this direction happened in 2013, when signatory members agreed that border controls could be temporarily reintroduced under extraordinary circumstances (such as a serious threat to national security). But the reform is limited in its scope (border controls can be reintroduced for a maximum of 10 days, and only after consultation with the European Commission) and it explicitly says that a spike in immigration should not, in itself, be considered a threat to internal security.

 

In the coming years, member states will push to be given more power and discretion when it comes to reintroducing border controls. EU countries in northern Europe will also push for the suspension or even the expulsion of countries along the European Union's external borders that are seen as failing to effectively control their borders. New EU member states will have a hard time entering the Schengen zone, and the resistance from some countries to accept nations like Romania and Bulgaria (which have been in the European Union for almost a decade but are still waiting to join the Schengen area) will become the new normal.

 

Even without a proper reform of the Schengen Agreement, member states will continue to enhance police controls at train and bus stations and at airports. Several countries already employ sporadic police controls on trains and buses, a practice that is likely to grow. Under pressure from conservative forces, many EU countries (mostly in northern Europe) will also toughen their migration laws to make it harder for immigrants to access welfare benefits.

 

To a certain extent, the weakening of the Schengen Agreement is linked to the weakening of the free movement of people — one of the key liberties of the European Union. The treaty and the principle of free movement are not the same thing; any EU citizen has the right to transit and remain in any member state regardless of the existence of border controls. But the Schengen Agreement was designed to strengthen the free movement of people and create a Continent without borders. The likely reforms to the Schengen Agreement will hurt this basic principle. Once a basic principle is weakened, the door is open for other freedoms to be similarly affected. The main threat to the European Union is that the weakening of the free movement of people could precede the weakening of the free movement of goods, which would end the European Union in its current form.