The Cost of Schengen

The Schengen Agreement is a 1985 European Economic Community treaty, carried over into the European Union as the Schengen Convention, which essentially did away with border controls along the borders between participating nations. Today, those nations are the EU member nations. Schengen had, and continues to have, considerable economic benefits beginning with smoother, delay-free travel across borders for people, goods, and services; citizens of one nation being able to work in another nation; reduced costs of border policing; and on and on.

Given the explosion in refugees, and others, from the Middle East, those “refugees'” misbehaviors and outright criminality (see the rapes in Germany and Sweden), and other “refugees'” outright terrorism (see Paris), there now is a move to drastically modify or eliminate Schengen and reinstitute national border controls. Of course the EU leadership is objecting, and part of its objection is a claimed cost.

The French government’s economic planning agency, France Stratégie, estimated in a report released this week that the reintroduction of permanent border controls within the EU would cost the bloc €110 billion, and make the EU economy 0.8% smaller within a decade.

The cost to the EU may prove to be what France Stratégie estimates it will be. However, that’s the wrong measure and the wrong responsible body. It’s the individual nations that are at risk: it wasn’t French women being raped in Germany or Sweden, it wasn’t Italian citizens butchered by terrorists in Paris.

Neither is the EU as a whole doing anything—and it doesn’t intend to do anything beyond hectoring Turkey and Greece about their southward-facing borders—to protect the citizens of the member nations from the depredations and butcheries of the terrorists and thugs mixed in with the flood of refugees. The EU isn’t even prepared to help its member nations deal with the floods that have already arrived in those members.

The decision by particular nations to suspend (or, in extremity, to withdraw from) Schengen must be respected as those nations move to better safeguard their people. Moreover, the costs of doing so plainly are national costs, not EU costs.

[T]he Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) estimated that border controls would cost Germany €10 billion a year.

Perhaps it would be that much. However, this cost must be weighed against the cost of the damage done via insecure borders.

In the end, too, the putative EU costs aren’t worth the worry. A 0.8% move in the EU’s €14.3 trillion GDP “within a decade” is economic measurement noise.

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