The European Council has again blocked Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area. It has apparently been blocked due to the veto from the Netherlands.The reality is that other Member States are also behind this opposition, with their leaders caught up in nationalist, populist rhetoric.
Against the background of the global economic crisis, the threat of Europe’s renationalisation is looming. Sacrificing the free movement of persons on the pretext that this would safeguard the security and cultural purity of Europe’s nations reflects the eurosceptic trend currently doing the rounds in the electoral campaign in France. While the French rejected the Constitutional Treaty by means of a referendum focused on debating national issues, the current presidential elections are raising controversy over European issues.
This would be welcome if the tone adopted were not anti-European. Mr Hollande is speaking out against European economic governance initiated through the fiscal pact.
Mr Sarkozy is calling for ‘political governance’ of the Schengen area. A ‘powerful France’ ought to define the principles of this governance, allowing ‘legitimate’ governments, unlike the European Commission, to impose sanctions on states which are not robust enough in tackling illegal immigration.
The real problem is not how to defend the EU’s external borders, but the inconsistency of the EU’s migration policy. There is also the need to come up with an EU solution for guaranteeing the application of the principle of solidarity and frank cooperation between EU Member States, which is enshrined in the treaties but which has become a dead letter.