Schengen es uno de los símbolos tangibles de la unidad Europea, pero hay un temor creciente a que éste se desvanezca.
La Europa, sin fronteras internas, nació hace 27 años con el Benelux, Francia y Alemania. Ahora son 26 países.
En la actualidad, algunos Estados miembros exigen más control en las fronteras.
Schengen encabezó el año pasado las principales portadas de la prensa con una disputa entre Italia y Francia, por la llegada de varios miles de inmigrantes a la raíz de la Primavera Árabe.
Con la aparente escasa ayuda de los Estados miembros de la UE, Roma les concedió permisos de residencia.
Como la mayoría eran tunecinos, se dirigieron a Francia para reunirse con sus parientes. París reaccionó intensificando temporalmente los controles fronterizos, incluyendo los trenes.
Este año, en abril, Francia, junto con Alemania plantearon la posibilidad de restablecer los controles fronterizos de manera unilateral.
Más tarde, los ministros de Interior se enfrentaron al Parlamento Europeo por privarles de su derecho en cómo debían ser aplicados esos controles.
Para el eurodiputado popular Carlos Coelho, la decisión tenía un objetivo claro, que los Gobiernos lo aplicasen en sus fronteras a su libre albedrío:
“Manteniendo este sistema se curan en salud, y las irregularidades en sus fronteras nunca afloran, por lo que no se corrigen.”
Schengen ya ha mostrado signos de desgaste con anterioridad. Por ejemplo, Euronews ha tenido acceso a un documento en donde las empresas checas denuncian controles sistemáticos por la policía en la frontera con Alemania. En una ocasión, las autoridades llegaron a inspeccionar hasta el 64% de los autobuses de una compañía checa.
Según Yves Pascouau, analista de Centro de Política Europea, esto podría incluso suponer el principio del fin de Schengen:
“ Si nos fijamos con detenimiento,en los últimos años ha habido algunos Estados, que de forma insistente, han abogado por la limitación de la libertad de movimiento. Nos referimos a unos pocos estados, pero si ahora la coalición se fortalece, la libertad de circulación peligra.”
Chipre acaba de tomar las riendas de la presidencia de turno de la UE.
00:00 Genérique debut
00:09 Vox pop
R: El Tratado de Schengen ?
Q: El acuerdo de Schengen. sí,¿Sabe qué es?
R: El Tratado de Schengen? No, no muy bien.
R: El que puedes viajar con un simple carnet de identidad. Mi hermana ha vivido en el extranjero, me ha venido muy bien. Estoy a favor de los acuerdos de Schengen.
Q: ¿Qué es?
R: Una bazofia
R: . Creo que es genial. Las fronteras se abren de la misma manera que puedes viajar desde California a Nueva York, sin tener que enseñar el DNI a la policía. Es bueno poder conducir de un país europeo a otro.
R: Schengen? Cómo se deletrea?
00:43 Isabelle Kumar
Si, Schengen. Admirado, odiado o completamente desconocido. Para los cerca de 400 millones de europeos significa que no necesitan llevar un pasaporte; para los turistas y ejecutivos, que pueden circular por 26 países dentro de esa área. Y todo, gracias a que es una zona libre de controles fronterizos internos. Para algunos, Schengen es el pegamento que mantiene unida a Europa -, pero ya hay quienes temen que pronto se despegue.
Lo vemos en el siguiente reportaje:
01:11 Story about Schengen. Pictures of signs with country names + airports.
Schengen is one of the tangible symbols of European unity but there are fears its being eroded.
Europe without internal borders began 35 years ago with Benelux, France and Germany. Now there are 26 countries.
Recently some member states demanded more controls at borders.
00:35 Ventimiglia Pictures
Schengen hit the headlines last year with a row between Italy and France, after the arrival of several thousand migrants to Italy’s shores in the wake of the Arab Spring.
With little apparent support from the EU member states, Rome issued the migrants short term residence permits.
As most were Tunisian, many were heading to join relatives in France. Paris reacted by temporarily intensifying border checks and even blocking trains at the border.
02:01 Angela Merkel and Sarkozy
In April this year, France alongside Germany proposed the possibility of reinstating border checks unilaterally.
Later, EU interior ministers enfuriated the European Parliament by potentially excluding it from having a say on how the border rules are applied.
02:16 SETUPMEP Carlos Coelho
For the MEP Carlos Coelho, the Council’s decision had one clear objective – for government’s to do as they please at their borders.
02:23 SOUNDBITE Carlos Coelho
“Maintaining this system they are covering themselves and irregularities at borders so they never come to light, they are never corrected…”.
But even before this, it appears Schengen has been chipped away at. For example, euronews has had access to a document where Czech companies denounce systematic German police border controls. In one case 64 % of buses are checked by authorities.
02:47 Setup Analist
Acording to Yves Pascouau, European Policy Centre analyst, this could even be the beginning of the end of Schengen.
02:55 Soundbite Yves Pascouau
“If we see in the last years there have been some states – some of them very strong – advocating limitations of freedom of movement. We are talking only about some States… but the coalition might get stronger and then the freedom of movement might be in danger”.
03:06 Pictures of airport
Cyprus has just taken the head of the EU rotating presidency.
03:15 Stand Up Michel Santos (fast)
With the economic and migration crisis some member states have been accused of a lack of solidarity. Added to that, Schengen has highlighted a lack of confidence over how external border controls are managed – The Cyprus presidency not only has to manage this but also the row between the EUs institutions. Michel Santos, Euronews, On The Frontline
03:29 Isabelle Kumar in studio
I’m joined on the Frontline to discuss the thorny issue of Schengen with a woman who is at the very heart of this debate – Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, and Andreas Mavroyiannis, who’s got the dossier high on his to-do list and he is the Deputy Minister for European Affairs of Cyprus. Thank you very much for joining us.
This is a very hot topic at the moment, people throwing into question the very principle of passport free travel, what’s at stake here?
04:03 Cecilia Malmstrom
The whole of Schengen could be at stake, as the movie showed Schengen is the most tangible success of the European Union for the ordinairy citizens. You can actually travel without a passport from Lapland in Finland to Malta without showing your passport and this is of course something that should not be taken for granted, we have to protect it. If that is put into question there is whole trust that is put into question and that could potentially jeopordise the whole freedom of travelling and that would be disasterous for the European Union.
04:37 Isabelle Kumar
You described this, which is your dossier now, as a toxic asset, they are pretty strong words – why is it a toxic asset?
04:46 Andreas Mavroyiannis
It is not the whole issue of Schengen which is a toxic asset – I was referring just to the row between the European parliament and the Council. It is a toxic asset in our relationship. We need to insure that this mutual trust and confidence which is at the base of the system is there and it is enhanced in order to allow this system not only to remain in place but to achieve even better results for the benefit of European citizens.
05:20 Isabelle Kumar
You’ve both mentioned the issue of trust and that seems fundamental to this – probably why governments are also saying “Well no, we don’t trust what is going on with Schengen at the moment and we want to have the sovereign right to unilaterally impose border checks” Isn’t that fair enough? Given the problems that you are aware of at the EU’s external borders
Member states are of course sovereign at their borders but Schengen is a joint accomplishment so if one member State wants to re-establish borders between another member state it becomes a European problem. And it could be cases where that has to happen, exceptional cases if there is a terrorist attack you might need to close your borders for a temporary moment or there could be serious deficiencies in one country. But what we must have, is very clear rules on when that can happen, because also today we see a lot of populist movements in Europe, we see a lot of mistrust, a lot of nationalism and we don’t want to have Schengen used as a domestic tool manipulating closing borders, opening them, like this because this is something there for the European citizens.
As you mentioned the issue of populism I would like you to listen to this soundbite from Auke Zilstra who is from the Dutch right wing Freedom Party.
06:38 Soundbite Auke Zilstra
“Schengen is the cause of the massive shift in crime and now we have to try to tackle this and the parliament has to find a solution. We have to have a restauration of frontier checks and our borders have to be safeguarded. Frontier checks are disappearing because of naive idealism – this will not bring europe together but drive Europe apart”.
Do you think that the Schengen debate is being taken over, as the Commissioner mentioned by populist rhetoric?
Yes, I fear this is the case and we are going through a most unfortunate almagamation between the freedom of movement of European citizens, the illegal migration, the xenophobic phenomena and all the other phenomena around the current economic and social crisis and they are exploited to promote populist agendas.
So how do you combat this ?
Well the solution is certainly not closing the borders. Nobody denies that we have a problem with cross border crime which is unfortunately increasing. When borders disappear, 99% take advantage of it, honest people, but also criminals take advantage of it. The solution is re-inforced police co-operation, re-inforced co-operation at customs, at intelligence, at law enforcement authorities all over Europe. You can do targeted checks at the borders if you have intelligence if you have suspicions but you cannot systematically check people who cross a border because that would be against Schengen.
08:24 IK Do you think that Cyprus has the clout to be able to really push this forward and reach a solution in the six months?
I don’t see this as a very big problem. There is an issue between the European Parliament and the council. There is an issue which was mentioned in the reportage before that yes we need to have a clear understanding on how, when, under what conditions, and what mechanisms we use in order to introduce temporary controls in the Schengen area. There is an issue there. But we are working on it. I am not pessimistic.
Not pessimistic, what about yourself ? Do you think in 20 years time Schengen will existe as it is today?
I am an optimist and as well you have to be in this. And there are issues left and disagreements. Maybe the positive aspects of this is that it has really created a debate and everybody has realised what we are putting at stake. So hopefully we can sit together and identify ways to move forward to strengthen Schengen to make it something that is sustainable also in 20 years because there is so much we will lose if we don’t do this, and I think we can do it.
I’d like to thank you very much for joining us OTFL that was a very interesting debate.
And beyond the politics and wether Shengen is looking shaky or not, it is something that Europeans appreciate and enjoy. A recent eurobarometer So Schengen seen as one of the strong symbols of European unity is also looking shakey.
But beyond the politics it’s a privilege that Europeans appreciate and enjoy – a recent Barometer poll showed that nearly 70% of people believe Schengen is important.
If you’re going away in Europe we’d like to hear about your experiences. What do you think about Schengen does the passport free zone really makes your journey easier were there were border checks, as some people singled out. We are interested – tweet us about it.
In the mean time thanks for joining us On the Frontline.