Guest blog – Diane James MEP

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A fundamental re-think of Schengen has to occur as a first step in the light of the new terrorist environment.

Sadly and to put it mildly, fundamental re-thinks are not attributes that are strong points in the repertoire of the EU and the European Parliament. It is something nevertheless that we all need to address for our own safety and individual human rights.

While it might be hard to believe now that there were days when one had to stop at every country border in the Continent of Europe for passport and customs checks. Potentially at that time one of the positive aspects of the EU, as far as travellers and lorry drivers were concerned, was the Schengen Agreement, signed first in 1985, whereby border checks on the Continent were abolished and there was unhindered travel.  However, the UK and Ireland had concerns about this Agreement (rightly as it has turned out) and secured OPT-OUT whereby they could continue to impose passport and customs checks at all ports of entry.  All other EU member states are legally obliged by EU Treaty to join the agreement.

The Schengen Agreement did not anticipate terrorism.  The real weakness of a borderless environment has in recent weeks been fully exposed through the massacre in Paris, although doubtless for some time this borderless environment has aided criminals, people trafficking, and transfers of drugs and arms.  It is now feasible for terrorists and criminals to move freely from country to country on the Continent and, even worse, traffic lethal weapons from EU member state to state with NO checks.

After the Paris massacre, France immediately declared a state of emergency and has since said that this will continue for at least three months and possibly indefinitely until “all terrorist threat has been eradicated”. This will probably mean years or decades. France has imposed border controls as part of its action against terrorism.  For a different reason, namely the uncontrolled flux of migrants, Hungary has sealed off the country with a fence and restricted free movement across its borders. Many other EU member states are following suit.  Victor Orban, the Prime Minister, is calling for EU Treaty change to achieve a fundamental re-writing of the Schengen Agreement.

Various commentators have now said “Schengen is dead”. Even Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, has admitted that the Schengen zone is “partially comatose”. However, it is not quite as simple as that. Adherence to the Schengen Agreement is part of Treaty obligations for member states.

Juncker is now warning that if Schengen is not re-established and free-movement of people re-instated, its collapse could take down the Eurozone and the Euro as a single currency.

The EU is like a “rabbit caught in the headlights”, trying desperately to maintain its concept of free-movement, and hoping to save face by proposing that the Schengen Information System (SIS) may be used legitimately to scan passports at borders.  This SIS, however, is fairly rudimentary…..a computer database that only contains alerts for wanted criminals, known terrorists and stolen passports. Even SIS officials have estimated that it will take a year or more to have in place a functional, useful, and properly working system.

In the UK, we should be ALERT to all this. If the EU in its ponderous bureaucratic way does get round to proposing a new Schengen Agreement, it would probably take years to agree this even with support from the required majority of EU member states and the qualified majority voting rules, and without UK support.  We are only one of twenty-eight.  With a new agreement, the UK’s existing opt-out to the original Schengen becomes worthless and we either comply or try to agree another opt-out, which may not be easy.

Meanwhile in all of this kind of terrorist situation, the UN reacted rapidly and a resolution was passed quickly and unanimously (an unusual event !) that UN members could take whatever measures they deemed necessary to control their borders.

Does the UN resolution trump the EU Treaty?  Who knows?  It could be a fascinating international legal debate.  However, there can be little doubt in view of the threat that EU countries must re-establish border checks and controls.

Given that freedom of movement of goods, services and people seems so fundamental to the EU concept, could Schengen be the final straw that breaks the back of the EU camel?

I welcome all responses to this perspective.

Diane James MEP

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24 Responses to Guest blog – Diane James MEP

  1. Linda Hudson says:

    Cannot flog a dead horse, that being the E.U. diktats!

  2. Anyoldiron says:

    For many years now, those that went through the last WAR-which I remember very well indeed, have known what eventually was/may would happen regarding the now present European Union, which seemed to be working towards the beginning of One GREAT STATE of European Union, which I am sure many others also realised the same.
    Because I remember very well that last WAR, I spent many, many hours going through Hansard some years ago now, and long before I had a Computer. I travelled to the Birmingham Library every day to read through the many Books of Hansard and what indeed is indeed recorded in Hansard from the 1969 etc.
    Prime Minister Harold Macmillan 31st July 1961 (column 928) “This is political as well as an economic issue. Although the Treaty of Rome is concerned with economic matters it has an important political objective, namely to promote unity and stability in Europe which is so essential a factor in the struggle for freedom and progress throughout the world”.
    Mr Fell (Same day Column 935), “Is the Prime Minister aware that this decision to gamble with the British sovereignty in Europe, when 650 million people in the British Commonwealth depend upon his faith and his leadership, is the most disastrous thing that any Prime Minister has done for many generation past?”
    On 3rd August 1961 (column 1735) Mr Shinwell continues his words after having read out a part of the Treaty of Rome, ending with “reinforcement of the European Parliament through direct elections and widening of its powers and, finally, a European Government. That is the intention. That is their object and that is what they are saying on Hon Members can talk until they are black in the face about the Rome Treaty and there being no provision for federation, but there is no doubt that from the declarations made by some of the most influential people–M.Spaak, Professor Hallstein and others who have indicated that there is a definite intention and that once we accept the economic provisions of the Rome Treaty—and it looks as though this government might—they are on their way towards complete political integration”.
    “I wonder what this place will be like during the course of the next ten years? There will not be 630 Hon Members. There will be no need for more than 150 or so. It will be like—”
    Mr A. C. Manuel, “A Council”.
    Mr Shinwell, “I was about to say a Parish Council, with the authority of some kind delegated to it by the European Parliament and dictated to be a European Government. To that we are being led”. END OF QUOTES
    A truly GREAT Statesman, our Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, took us through that last terrible WAR? Now ask yourselves, “What if HE had paid and ratified Treaties for the then leader of Germany eh? How do anyone of us know exactly WHO will be the next President to the EU?

  3. John Poynton says:

    Be interesting to know if there is any info link-up planned between the Schengen SIS and our own system, whatever that now is.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    I’m afraid lessons from history are often discarded.The IRA attacked the RAF in Holland (Roermond) and Germany along with the Army. That was 1988 with both armed police and border guards in each country. I never thought a border control was much when I was there in the RAF earlier, although they did trip me up a couple of times. There were border things (huts) in both Belgium, Holland and Germany that you could drive right through, largely at night. Risk assessment shows that it was less threatening times, but some sort of control was clearly deemed necessary.

    Starting with the historic notion that its a good idea (common sense) to keep an eye on borders it now gets dumped to a free for all. So, big deal you don’t need to show a passport, but you still need id papers. And a quick look at a British Driving Licence tells you exactly what a piece of cr*p that is.

    The UN is corrupt I think… and if I had not quite realised it years ago when I saw them lounging about in Cyprus and the M. East it certainly gets rammed home with COP21. An extraordinary wasteful organisation.The EU is no longer worth considering as anything useful…simply very dangerous with the foolish Frau at the top and silly men just below.

    I suspect the usual long string(s) of lunches and flying about will be done and will leave us in either the mess we are in now or something much worse. The EU will continue to roll out their vision(?) for as long as it takes, but I despair at the damage caused to the fringe countries. Its no longer a case of will it be killed…just when please. Might have to ask Donald for assistance?

  5. Jane Davies says:

    “Juncker is now warning that if Schengen is not re-established and free-movement of people re-instated, its collapse could take down the Eurozone and the Euro as a single currency.”
    As far as I’m concerned……bring it on!

    “The Schengen Agreement did not anticipate terrorism.”
    Well they should have done, terrorism is hardly a new concept. To have idiots in charge of the lives of millions of people is unforgivable.

  6. Diane, thank you for a very informative article from someone who is there on the spot in Brussels.
    The response to the misgovernment of the EU can be one of two things:

    1. Muddle along as we are at the moment with 28 points of view on every issue making common policy impossible. This is actually not far from “l’Europe des Patries” which is what I personally would like to see. The problem is that there are some challenges which are causing real distress and which have been caused by the elite who are in charge. The jungle at Calais is a good example. Someone is going to get killed there. The Eurozone is another. To keep Greece afloat, Germany has to have all its banking guarantees overridden. I could go on… the problem is that we cannot vote this incompetent and arrogant government out of office. We cannot change the policy. We just obey. With our own national government, we could rule ourselves like Canada or Australia or Singapore.

    2. Then there is the second option which is what every EU leader seems to want: More Europe! To bring in More Europe, we will need stronger policing, more anti terrorism laws, more states of emergency, more army on the streets. Maybe the camps for the immigrants will stretch to include terrorists and other anti-social elements. A sort of Guantanamo Bay or Immigrant Hostel for people who do not fit in. A centrally controlled Police Force and prison service backed up by a central security force. Europe under the More Europe elite is not going to be the kind of place where you can get out of line.

    Without true democracy – and that includes a viable opposition and free speech – Hitler, Franco, Salazar, Mussolini, Ceausescu, Milosevic, Jaruzelski, Hoxa, and the Russians are just round the corner waiting.

  7. Jane Davies says:

    Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas but I fear we cannot have as good a time as the EU ‘eurocrats’ who have just pocketed around 74 million in so called bonuses for doing sod all for the average Joe, except make life harder. As the hospitals in the UK struggle to deliver patient care because of staff shortages and the poor and disabled suffer yet more cuts to their income these greedy wastes of space salt away their ill gotten gains and care not a jot for the taxpayers whose money they have stolen. One day Karma will come calling you can be sure of that.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Merry Xmas Jane. My son just arrived from working/living in London for the last 4 months. That 4 hour update took us down for a good few hours. Now that that mess has once again been illustrated Xmas may proceed here

      Capital City? Capital Sh*t house.

      • Jane Davies says:

        We are thinking about coming back to the UK for a visit….not sure about visiting my place of birth…..Richmond SW London. I think I would rather remember it as it was when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties. One thing I think may happen is that for all my homesickness and nostalgia for the home country, and where I lived in Hampshire and Somerset, it will confirm that coming to Canada ten years ago was the best thing we did. The beauty and peace here on Vancouver Island we have started to take for granted, a good jolt of realism is maybe what I need.
        Enjoy the day…….

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        I used to live near Bridgewater(Mark) and looking on Google Maps little has changed (add M5). London and the South East…nope!

        Just visit by Google Maps…also saves the aggro of cr*p air flights etc.

      • Jane Davies says:

        Been there done that…..can’t visit family via google though and Skype is OK but not the same as seeing loved ones in person! No we will have to bite the bullet and join the masses in cattle class for the long haul.
        We lived in Alton and Winchester and then a village five miles from Taunton called Cotford St Luke. I often visit via streetview.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      ok, I’ll stop exaggerating…sort of. Parachuting in might be better?

  8. Derek says:

    Diane – An interesting article. I am amazed that the Schengen arrangement has not led to more problems in the past. I don’t see how it is possible to return to it now with all the threats Europe faces. If the UK could be forced into joining a new Border agreement then that is completely unacceptable and is yet another good argument for leaving. It’s time you were back on Question Time!

  9. Ex-expat Colin says:

    What the authorities won’t tell you about the floods (Cumbria). Its the heavy rainfall that normally would be dumped on N. Scotland and not reported/of interest when it commonly is.

    This needs to be on the OUT list. Like the Somerset Levels its them again! The weather changed for all the reasons there are except climate change and the mid regions of UK are wrecked.

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/

  10. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Try this…Current Earth Wind model: (mouse buttons can rotate it) – click about for data sources

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-30.14,41.72,430/loc=37.933,23.461

  11. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Questions asked but no answers…just scare stuff!
    15 December 2015 UK MP David Davies informs the House of Commons the FACTS behind “Climate Change”

    • Jane Davies says:

      So where was everybody? Not many bums on seats!.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Well, nobody wants to stay around when awkward questions are put. 95% of scientists said its happening big time. All records since 1880 are either inadequate/inaccurate or too short to make any decision other than oh..its raining?

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