The Schengen zone’s original purpose was to eliminate border controls between the Schengen countries in order to make travel easy and to stimulate and create economic opportunities.
The Schengen freedom, however, brought concerns over uncontrolled terrorism, trafficking, illegal immigration and more, which turned the Schengen zone into a widely discussed and controversial topic between EU interior ministers. The area where travellers could travel without a passport was once considered one of the greatest achievements of the European Union. It is now seen more like a free pass for a crime.
Some European leaders now suggest to “fix” the problem as they simply impose border controls to the borderless zone. The French and German interior ministers, for example, proposed border controls for up to 30 days if there is an increase in immigrant flow.
The Austrian minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, also expressed support to the Franco-German proposal, saying: “The commission should act as a kind of early warning system and should propose concrete measures which should then be implemented.”
Denmark is also sceptic about Schengen and even closed its borders for a short period last year. The Danes claim that there must be clearer rules for action in emergencies which had nothing to do with the freedom to travel.
The unhappiest of all, however, is the French. Claude Guéant, France’s interior minister, warned that the Schengen’s common border – from the Baltic to the Mediterranean to the Aegean – must be secure by the end of this year, or else France will leave the Schengen zone.
In addition, Nicolas Sarkozy is also in support of imposing borders within Schengen, which some see as an attempt to win re-election. German interior minister Friedrich, on the other hand, claims that the proposal for Schengen reforms has nothing to do with Sarkozy’s election campaign.
“We govern for the people, and the people in France are very worried about illegal immigration. So we have to take this worry seriously,” he said. Possible reform of the Schengen rules will be discussed no earlier than June.