The Schengen area—where internal borders are abolished—is one of the EU's most courageous and tangible achievements. Nonetheless the passport-free zone is at a crossroads. The immediate abolition of frontier controls with Bulgaria and Romania risks exacerbating a tense standoff between governments and EU institutions over how best to keep borders open in Europe. Schengen members are already demanding more control over their own borders as concerns over immigration in Western Europe run high.
Hugo Brady, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, analyzes how Schengen has developed since its establishment and explains why current political divisions within the area are likely to worsen. He argues that Schengen enlargement should be delayed until 2014 while governments and the European Commission tackle problems such as major shortcomings in Greece's immigration and asylum system. He concludes by proposing a new EU-Turkey accord on mobility, migration and security to help insure the Schengen area against future risks and vulnerabilities.
The Centre for European Reform, with support from the Open Society Institute-Brussels, launched this publication in January 2012 with a debate in Brussels. Speakers included Antonio Vitorino, former Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Charles Clarke, British Home Secretary from 2004-2006 and Stefano Manservisi, Director General for Home Affairs at the European Commission.