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WASHINGTON – The Schengen Treaty, which is one of the basic tenets of the European Union and allows people to move freely among member countries, is increasingly being threatened as the economic situation throughout Europe becomes progressively serious, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
What the treaty did was eliminate border controls among the E.U. members. It has become what has been described as one of the most visible symbols of that union. Nations throughout Central Europe to West European have done away with their internal border controls.
Twenty-six countries belong to the Schengen Treaty, which includes all of the E.U. countries except the United Kingdom and Ireland. Other non-E.U. countries which are signatories to the Schengen Treaty are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
For Europe, the Schengen Treaty has not only been a symbol of unity but also success of the E.U. – until now.
With the influx of people from non-E.U. countries, mainly refugees fleeing Greece and Italy as well as those escaping the civil war in Libya last year, there was created a heavy economic drain on the economies of the E.U. countries, especially those which themselves where experiencing hard times.
The latest economic downturn in Europe’s economic health underscored the additional problem when members created the E.U., they ceded sovereignty to supranational institutions, especially on the issue of economics.
This development prompted some members to consider giving the European Commission the power to decide when to allow a country to increase its border controls.
Last April, this consideration prompted France and Germany to complain to the president of the European Union – Denmark at the time. Denmark was one of those countries considering reimposing border controls after having done away with them many years ago.
The Schengen Treaty, however, does allow a country to reimpose border controls without E.U. authorization under extreme conditions and only for a short time.
Consideration of reimposing border controls, even for a short period, came amid the worst economic crisis Europe had experienced in decades.
Those countries considering such action wanted to do it to protect their own labor markets which were being flooded with workers either as a result of the influx of new refugees or high unemployment in other E.U. countries.
Those countries which were feeling the employment pinch as a result of Europe’s economic downturn were Spain, Ireland and Portugal. In addition, Greece had become the main avenue for illegal immigrants from the Balkans and Turkey, as was Italy due to the influx of refugees escaping the civil war in Libya.
Because these countries already had serious unemployment, their residents legally could go into the other E.U. countries looking for jobs, placing greater pressure on those other countries for limited available jobs.
Regional sources say that modification of the Schengen Treaty is only talk for now and that discussion on the issue is for domestic political consumption in countries experiencing continuing labor problems from the influx of illegal immigrants or the unemployed from other E.U., Schengen members.
However, this could change to possible action if Europe’s economic crisis deepens. Indeed, there is such a prospect, not only because of continuing economic difficulties Europe is experiencing but also from the effects of the United States going over its own “fiscal cliff” come the beginning of the new year.
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