Schengen: Will Misguided National Politics Kill the Idea of Europe?Editorial |Author: Ognian Kassabov | April 26, 2011, Tuesday // 19:43| views
Tuesday has been special for the history of the EU in that the leaders of two of its original and most respected members - France and Italy - held talks aiming at limiting the fulfilment of one of the very goals for which the EU was created: the free movement of people.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi met in Rome to develop and propose revisions to the Schengen Treaty in the wake of the flood of migrants chased by unrest in North Africa which even led to a previous quarrel of sorts between the two EU-members.
The hottest point in the letter sent out to the top EU leaders, including Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, is the proposal that in certain circumstances Schengen signatories reserve the right to reinstall border controls.
It goes without saying that both France and especially Italy are at great strain taking up the flood of refugees. It also goes without saying that the problem of asylum-seekers cannot be solved by shutting borders and depriving EU citizens of a fundamental right and the EU itself of one of its purposes for existence.
The plight of Italy and France might be great, but it is also as certain that Berlusconi and Sarkozy are blatantly catering to the rising nationalistic and xenophobic attitudes of their compatriots - all the more that both of them are for different reasons facing grave problems and growing unpopularity at home.
This alarming situation has not bypassed the traditionally sound-thinking Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel on her part had stated she wanted nothing to have with African refugees and all but explicitly rejected all solidarity with Italy.
A time of rising xenophobic nationalism throughout Europe - and a time when national leaders more and more are seeking the route of intragovernmental agreements - does not bode well for the idea of a truly united Europe.