Schengen border checks are changing. Why?

From April 7 procedures change on Schengen borders as border police will check travel documents of all persons, including EU citizens.How necessary do you find this measure especially from the security point of view? Read few comments.

Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast

Increasing state security through border control is not just a European phenomenon; President Trump’s promise to ‘Build the Wall’ between the US and Mexico and the British government’s quest to ‘take back control’ of UK borders through Brexit demonstrate the popular association of cross-border migration with national threat.

But the management and control of territorial borders can only go so far in this ultra-connected world; in order to respond to new security risks, border management practices have to be performed within the territory of the state through the expansion of data-gathering and surveillance which deepen the effects of state control throughout its jurisdiction. Thus, across Europe, routes of regional infrastructure – train connections and train stations, major urban metro stations, overland bus stations, inter-state highways, and public city plazas – are now defined as strategic knots of transit and subject to intensified ‘border’ enforcement in the form of immigration checks.

The effectiveness of this security strategy is seen to depend on the growing capacity to monitor the movement of people through, for example, digital footprints, airline records and e-passport technology. As such, compulsory checks on all people crossing Schengen borders is but part of an EU strategy to strengthen its own capacity for border management and digital surveillance, e.g. through the collection of biometric (fingerprint) data on the holders of passports of Schengen countries.

One concern that has been raised is that, as practices of border management become an increasing feature of life in Europe, the fundamental causes of security threats (be they external or internal to the EU) are not actually being addressed. Just as national borders are no limit to social, economic, political or cultural transactions in today’s globalised and digitally-connected world, increased border controls do not necessarily strengthen internal security.

Andrew Geddes, Professor, Director, Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute

Increased controls signify increased anxiety across Europe about cross border movements and insecurity. The reintroduction of controls challenges the basic principles of the Schengen system, but is represented by political leaders as a response to public concern. The physical checking of documents might provide reassurance and has value for citizens who feel insecure, although if queues are long there might be a backlash. What is probably more important within Schengen is the effective exchange of information between member states. This is because the vast majority of travelers pose no security risk. Rather, it is a very small number of people whose movements need to be monitored. This is less visible and depends upon much more effective cooperation and sharing of information between Schengen states.

Christian Kaunert, Academic Director, Professor of European Politics, Institute for European Studies

Indeed, i think the new procedures are quite logical. EU member states have been very concerned about returnees from Syria. These people are primarily EU citizens, which means, it is necessary to check for this in case that some returnees are in one of the databases. This will enable a much speedier questioning and ultimately prosecution. So, all in all, this is understandable.

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