European Union: Reforming Schengen, an absurd gesture

28 April 2011
Berliner Zeitung Berlin

Rome, April 21, 2011: Tunisian immigrants waiting for a train to Ventimiglia on the French border.
Rome, April 21, 2011: Tunisian immigrants waiting for a train to Ventimiglia on the French border.

France and Italy have called for reform of the Convention on freedom of movement — they will not have trouble getting what they want, but that does not solve the problem of accommodating immigrants, says the Berliner Zeitung.

A redirection activity is an action that is carried out in place of a different action that cannot be done. As a phenomenon it is found across all walks of life. And, often enough, in politics too, where one does something or other to avoid doing what is necessary.

The latest thrust to revise the Schengen Agreement falls into this category. France and Italy want to allow temporary controls on Europe's internal borders in the event that refugees pour across the EU's external borders. Germany also thinks the idea is a sound one.

And at the EU Commission, France and Italy are, in principle, preaching to the choir. In any case, there are no objections to the plans. There is nothing to indicate that they endanger the freedom of travel in Europe in any significant way.

Only the project has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual question as to under whose responsibility the EU is systematically shirking from taking action. The question is, how can the Union organise a common, solidly united refugee policy?

What is needed is fair burden-sharing among EU countries in admitting and integrating asylum seekers. That burden-sharing should be permanently in place, and independently of temporary events such as the current influx of tens of thousands of refugees from Tunisia.

Europe has so far failed miserably at this. The biggest brakemen on the train are called Germany and Austria, who do not want to take on the misery of the refugees coming across the Mediterranean to Italy or Malta. Politically, the situation is deadlocked. And so Europe is doing something or other. Just for the sake of doing it.

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