Re-posted by Nicholas Stix
I thank reader-researcher RC for this article.
By Matthew Holehouse, Brussels
3:59PM GMT 25 Nov 2015
The Schengen zone is “partially comatose”, Jean-Claude Juncker conceded on Wednesday, as he warned that its collapse would take down the eurozone.
The single currency cannot survive if the free movement of people granted by the passport-free travel zone ends, the president of the European Commission said, in the starkest warning yet.
Mr Juncker could only watch this summer after state after state reintroduced border controls in a desperate attempt to halt the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants. The Paris terrorist attacks led France to announce indefinite border checks.
"We have to safeguard the spirit behind Schengen,” Mr Juncker told the European Parliament. “Yes, the Schengen system is partially comatose.”
“But those who believe in Europe, its values, its principles and its freedoms, must try to breathe new life into the spirit behind Schengen.
[What “values,” “principles,” and “freedoms”? Bureaucratic totalitarianism? Freedom for Islamization? And to borrow from UKIP, freedom for jihadis?]
"If the spirit leaves our hearts, we will lose more than Schengen. A single currency does not exist if Schengen fails. It is not a neutral concept. It is not banal. [Oh, yes it is!] It is one of the pillars of the construction of Europe." [Europe existed for millennia before the introduction of the Euro. Juncker is confusing the destruction of Europe, with its “construction.”]
Under the French crackdown, passport checks are being carried out on cross-border trains and at checkpoints on certain road crossings.
At least three of the Paris attackers are believed to have used the migrant trail to enter Europe undetected, leading to accusations from Ukip that the [sic] Schengen amounted to the “free movement of kalashnikovs, terrorists and jihadists”.
"Please don't get things mixed up. We should not exploit in an absurd manner these tragic events," said Mr Juncker, whose office had resisted French demands for universal security checks on migrants and EU passport holders.
Fabrice Leggeri, the head of Frontex, the EU agency charged with protecting the bloc’s external borders, admitted that it would take more than a year for his body to be granted access to the security databases that would allow it to detect terrorists.
He blamed MEPs for denying Frontex access to such databases in the past.
Norway, which is not in the EU but sits within Schengen, became the latest to reintroduce border checks on Wednesday to halt the flow from neighbouring Sweden, which is expected to receive an extra 350,000 people by the end of next year.
“The large number of asylum seekers and migrants is creating big challenges for us,” said Siv Jensen, the finance minister, in a statement.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, issued an ultimatum on Wednesday to EU leaders to embrace Mr Juncker’s troubled migrant relocation scheme or see the collapse of free movement. [Is that a threat, or a promise?]
Mrs Merkel drove the policy to relocate 160,000 people around the EU against the heads of eastern European states. Two months on, the project has flopped. Member states have offered just 3,000 places and 159 people have been moved.
"A distribution of refugees according to economic strength and other conditions, and the readiness for a permanent distribution mechanism, will determine whether the Schengen area will hold in the long term," she said.
The Schengen Agreement
Photo credit: Alamy
What is it?
An agreement, signed in 1985 in the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, to remove border checks within Europe. It means anyone, regardless of nationality, can move freely between member states without showing a passport or visa
Who is a member?
Not the UK. But most EU states are in, as are Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. In total, 26 countries comprising 400 million people
Why is it under strain?
Terrorists and mass migration. Police checks have been brought in on the Italian border at the request of Bavaria, amid a wave of non-EU migrants attempting to reach Germany. Angela Merkel warns the system will be pulled apart unless countries share asylum seekers. And Belgium wants more ID checks on trains in the wake of the Thalys train terrorist attack
Are checks legal?
Police are allowed to make targeted 'security' checks on the border, and states can impose border controls in an emergency or for major events for up to 30 days. But permanent, systematic checks on passports are forbidden
What does the European Union say?
Jean Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, says the system is non-negotiable, irreversible, and the EU's greatest achievement
What do Eurosceptics say?
"Schengen has now hit the buffers of the real world and is falling apart," says Nigel [N.S.: The passage ended abruptly, due to bad editing, probably deliberately so. The writer was likely referring to UKIP leader Nigel Farage.]