Hatches Being Battened Down?

by Andrew Stuttaford

Via Deutsche Welle

European interior ministers have agreed that countries should be allowed to close their borders when they deem it necessary. That puts them at odds with Brussels, which wants to have the final say in such decisions. European Union interior ministers have reached an agreement that would allow countries in the border-free Schengen zone to re-introduce border controls in emergencies that are deemed to threaten a country’s security. A key change that the agreement reached at a meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday would bring is that for the first time, an influx of immigrants would be defined as just such an emergency. The interior ministers also agreed that member states themselves should still be the ones to make such decisions. However this is far from a done deal, as the changes must be passed by the European Parliament for them to come into force and the 27-member bloc’s legislative body has already indicated it will oppose them in their current form. Both the legislature and the European Commission are demanding changes, which would, among other things give it a say in deciding when a country can introduce border controls. European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström used the micro-blogging website Twitter to express her criticism of the deal. “Disappointed by lack of European ambition among member states,” she said.

Malmström is not the worse of the oligarchs (she is, however, on record as arguing that her native Sweden should re-consider its—brilliantly effective— rejection of the euro, a comment that, if nothing else, reveals how little she knows about economics, and how much she has drunk of single currency Kool-Aid) . We can ignore her remarks as the ramblings of one confined in a bunker for too long. The move by the EU parliament is more interesting. It reveals once again that, with the exceptions of the Farages and Hannans of this world, it is a parliament of and for Europe’s transnational elite. If it has any loyalties to a people, it is to a “European” people that doesn’t exist. The electorates back home count for nothing.

The timing of this move is not  uninteresting either. Denmark set off these discussions under its previous (decent) government, wand they have sharpened by the increasing (and justified) suspicion amongst many voters that the Schengen Agreement has made a mighty contribution to the weakening of the EU’s external border. Still, why now?

Richard North reads the runes over at EU Referendum:

[T]he reluctance of member states fully to commit to open borders augers ill for a full political union. If unrestricted cross-border flows of people are unwelcome, it seems hard to believe that unrestricted cross-border government will be wildly endorsed.

But there’s also this:

[T]he nation which might be most affected by the new rules could be Greece itself. For instance, Sweden is expecting a rise in Greeks taking up resident permits this year, the number having risen from 371 to 767 between 2010 and 2011. Should the trickle become a flood, Greek passport holders could find border crossing a more difficult process…

Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

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