Salutations. The current refugee crisis in Europe is heartbreaking. I can’t even bear to watch the news any more but of course I do. Here is some important stuff you need to know. You are welcome.
The current migrant CRISIS is putting a strain on the Schengen Agreement-this agreement abolished the EU’s border controls, which enables passport-free travel within the designated area. Only 6 of the 28 EU Member States are outside the Schengen zone. They are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom. In addition, Non-EU nationals who have a Schengen visa generally wont have ID checks once they are travelling inside the zone. Yeah.
BTW, Schengen is a town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed in 1985. You can only visit Luxembourg if you can pronounce it properly. Half truth. There are 26 countries in Schengen( 22 EU members and 4 non EU members (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lietchetenstein). Schengen commenced in 1995 with the first members being: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.) The UK and Republic of Ireland have opted out of this as the UK wants to maintain its own borders (translation: we got Eurostar problems) and Dublin prefers to preserve its free movement arrangement with the UK ( called the Common Travel Area) rather than join Schengen.
But….it has all gone ‘a bit Pete Tong’ meaning: ‘its all gone a bit wrong.’ Yup. And let me tell you why. Germany has re-imposed controls on its border with Austria, this is after a record number of migrants travelled to southern Germany from Hungary, via Austria. Angela Merkel did NOT see that coming. Further, most of the migrants are fleeing Syria and other conflict zones. This has resulted in Austria restricting road and rail traffic on its border with Hungary. And Slovakia is boosting its controls on its borders with Austria and Hungary. Finally, the Dutch are now doing spot checks and Poland is considering doing the same. So, as migrants entered the EU illegally and WITHOUT a Schengen visa-Hungary became a sort of central gateway to the Schengen zone.
The EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Junker recently called the free movement under Schengen “a unique symbol of European integration.” Not sure what he is saying now, but something along the lines of, ‘please pass the salt.’ For real. But actually, under the Schengen rules, signatories may re-instate internal border controls for 10 days, if deemed necessary for public policy or national security reasons. If the problem persists, the controls can be maintained for renewable periods of up to 20 days and for a maximum of 2 months. So, watch this space.
And there’s more…