The Schengen Agreement Crisis: What You Need to Know
The Schengen Agreement is an agreement between 26 European countries that allows for the free movement of people across borders without the need for passports or other border controls. However, in recent years, the agreement has come under immense pressure due to various crises, such as the migrant crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current Schengen Agreement crisis is primarily centered around the issue of migration. The influx of refugees and migrants into Europe has put a significant strain on the agreement, as many member states have implemented temporary border controls in response to the crisis. These controls have been extended several times, even though the Schengen Agreement allows for their use for only a limited time in exceptional circumstances.
The crisis has revealed deep divisions among member states. Countries in the North and West of Europe have been more inclined to welcome refugees and migrants, while those in the South and East have been more skeptical and even hostile towards them. This has led to tensions and disagreements within the European Union (EU) and has tested the solidarity of the Schengen Agreement.
Another major challenge to the Schengen Agreement is the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, member states have introduced various travel restrictions and border controls in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. The restrictions have caused significant disruptions to travel and trade, and have sparked concerns about the future of the agreement.
The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, has been working to address these challenges and find a way to preserve the Schengen Agreement. In May 2020, the Commission presented a roadmap for the gradual lifting of internal border controls and the resumption of free movement within the Schengen Area. The roadmap includes a set of criteria that member states must meet in order to lift their border controls, such as having a low number of COVID-19 cases.
The Commission has also proposed a new migration and asylum pact, which aims to establish a more stable and predictable system for managing migration in the EU. The proposed pact includes measures such as mandatory solidarity among member states, a more effective return policy, and a more efficient asylum procedure.
The Schengen Agreement is a cornerstone of the European project, and its survival is crucial to the future of the EU. While the current crisis has exposed its weaknesses, it has also shown that the EU is capable of finding solutions to complex challenges. The key to preserving the agreement will be finding a balance between national interests and the common European interest, and ensuring that all member states share the burden of managing migration and upholding the principles of free movement.
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