Blue countries: Schengen Agreement member states.
Yellow countries: Pending members.
On the Surface
Europe has had its fair share of displacements, both external and internal. Take for example the Bolshevik Revolution, which saw large portions of the Russian population flee towards western Europe. In terms of external displacements, European decolonization efforts during the 1800’s caused waves of immigrants to flood their former mother countries. Although these large migrations are nothing new to Europeans, the current migrant crisis now unfolding in Europe’s eastern corridor is shaping up to be quite the tragedy. This article is Part 1 of a 3-part series prescribing possible solutions to the ongoing crisis.
Better Maintaining The Schengen Agreement.
The Schengen Agreement (SA) was signed into action by the EEC (European Economic Community) and then later expanded to encompass 26 EU member countries. The purpose of the SA is to sponsor free movement through the suspension of visa policies. Think of it as a moving through the United States. Citizens of SA member-states don’t have to do extensive paperwork or have a license in order to work in a different state, which allows European countries to share their labor forces.
Maintaining the SA is critical because it helps tremendously in burden-sharing efforts. Migrants wouldn’t simply pile up in one country, but instead spread out more evenly. By allowing this dispersal, no single European country would face a majority of the burden. The main issue facing the SA is that many of the 26 signatory countries no longer want to be members due to fears of high migrant intake and the resulting economic burden. This fear will ultimately end up causing even more problems than it solves.
Schengen Continued. . .
The SA as it stands currently could prove to be a major problem-solver for this migrant crisis, but only if more steps are taken. Greece is one of the largest hot spots for migrant flow into Europe. This massive influx of migrants has put Greece in a social and economic jam because Greece is the only SA signatory country in the southeast. This makes Greece a choke point for migrants, dampening the SA’s effectiveness.
This problem can be rectified by Greece’s northern neighbors Romania and Hungary. Both of these countries are currently candidates for admittance to the SA. Admission of both would create an SA passageway connecting that eastern and western Europe, allowing for the better flow of migrants between east and west.
Europe must remain firmer on the Schengen Agreement. Failure to do so will only intensify the ill effects of the migrant crisis now unfolding in eastern Europe.