The euro and the Schengen zone have been two of the EU’s most tangible and widely recognizable achievements. Now, both are faced with considerable, even existential, challenges. The concept of a border-free Europe is being tested by the evolving migration and refugee crisis, with an extremely high number of people from Syria and other conflict regions trying to cross into European countries (mainly Greece and Italy) in an attempt to seek asylum in their final destination country in Northern Europe. The limited enthusiasm of most EU states—with the notable exceptions of Germany and Sweden—to undertake any commitments in the context of a burden-sharing agreement promoted by the European Commission is once more testing the limits of European solidarity and the idea of common European policies.
An additional concern about radical individuals entering Europe disguised as refugees complicates the situation even further at a time of increasing radicalization of societies in some EU countries and rising xenophobia or Islamophobia in others. Schengen, and the whole European experiment, will soon be dead unless Europeans act on the basis of the assumption that “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” In the meantime, the fighting in Syria should stop. Talk to the Iranians and the Russians ASAP.
Dr Thanos Dokos
This article was published on Carnegie Europe website.