It was a harbinger of things to come.
In a major turn of events in Europe, as reported by Spiegel Online News International in EU Slams Denmark over Plans to Reintroduce Border Checks and Denmark to Reintroduce Border Controls on Tuesday, the EU Member State of Denmark is to reintroduce permanent customs border controls at land border crossings, harbors and airports in order to cope with "an increase in trans-border crime".
The European Council had already declared problems with the Schengen Agreement, which currently creates free internal European borders in the 22 signing EU Member States, plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, free borders which now are in danger of falling. On June 24, 2011, the European Council of the EU, comprised of the heads of state or government of EU Member States, plus the EU President and the President of the EU Commission, reached a number of "Conclusions", one of which bears on a problems concerning migration and the Schengen Agreement, as follows:
"20. The free movement of persons, as established in the Treaty, is one of the most tangible and successful achievements of European integration as well as being a fundamental freedom. Political guidance and cooperation in the Schengen area need to be further strengthened, enhancing mutual trust between Member States, which are equally responsible for guaranteeing that all Schengen rules are applied effectively in accordance with the agreed common standards and with fundamental principles and norms. Europe’s external borders must be effectively and consistently managed, on the basis of common responsibility, solidarity and increased practical cooperation."The Schengen Agreement, as written at the Wikipedia, is:
"... is a treaty signed on 14 June 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement 5 years later. Together these treaties created Europe's borderless Schengen Area, which operates very much like a single state for international travel with border controls for travellers travelling in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls.
The Schengen Agreements and the rules adopted under them were entirely separate from the EU structures until the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, which incorporated them into the mainstream of European Union law. The borderless zone created by the Schengen Agreements, the Schengen Area, currently consists of 25 European countries, covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometers (1,664,911 sq mi)." [LawPundit note: Of the EU Member States, Ireland and the United Kingdom opted out of the agreement]....
In 2006 the directive on the right to move freely (2004/38/EC) was implemented, meaning that passportless travel is allowed in the entire European Union, if having a national identity card from an EU country. For some a passport a necessary anyway, since not all countries issue such cards for their citizens, and because Sweden requires a passport when travelling from that country to EU countries outside Schengen.See Schengen Area at Wikipedia for a map of participating countries.
Ireland and the United Kingdom, both of which are EU Member States, opted out of the Schengen Agreement from the very beginning.
The absence of internal border controls is not absolute according to EU agreements, however, and internal European border controls in Schengen countries may be reintroduced "in the event of a serious threat to public order or national security". The Danish re-institution of border controls is thus clearly part of a new political situation in Europe. What other choice does the EU really have other than to go along with the Danish decision?
For more detailed analysis of the causes for the Danish move, see e.g. Spiegel Online International at:
- 'Spiral of Mistrust': Danish Threat to Schengen Agreement Under Fire (05/16/2011)
- European Disunion: Rising Self-Interest Frays EU Spirit (05/13/2011)
- The World from Berlin: 'Dividing Forces are Mounting in Europe' (05/13/2011)
- Schengen Zone Dispute: EU Slams Denmark over Plans to Reintroduce Border Checks (05/12/2011)