Europe’s ‘borderless’ travel regime is under renewed pressure, with France to call for its suspension on Friday, British media is reporting.
France also wants Passenger Name Records (PNRs) for planes, trains and ships. That has until now been blocked by Europe’s data protection lobby, which says bulk collection of so much data contravenes the Lisbon Treaty, the constitutional backbone of the European Union (EU).
France wants PNR used for both intra-EU travel and visitor arrivals from beyond Europe, according to London’s Daily Telegraph.
Friday’s terrorist atrocity in Paris, believed to have involved people who crossed into France under Schengen Convention rules that let travellers move around Europe without having to show papers, may prove to be the final straw for the agreement. France has suspended the Schengen Convention and all visitors to France must now show passports or ID (depending on country of origin).
France is also demanding that other European nations begin similar border identity checks inside the Schengen area.
As Europe’s free movement zone, Schengen allows travel without internal border checks between 22 EU member countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
It grants visa-free travel around the Schengen area to Australian tourists planning to spend less than a total of 90 days there within a 180-day period. See: Terrorist atrocity likely to spell end of borderless travel
A source told the Telegraph France contends that if Schengen is to survive, it needs “unprecedented flexibility for the new terrorist reality”.
That includes PNR gathering and radical internal tightening.
As well as France, four other countries – Germany, Austria, Sweden and Hungary – have introduced temporary border controls this year and Switzerland is considering doing likewise. Schengen was under pressure from the influx of migrant hordes well before the latest Paris massacre.
Schengen forbids permanent, systematic checks on passports – but that’s exactly what security demands, experts say. As a consequence, critics doubt that the Schengen Convention will survive.
Many agree with a comment by UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage: “Schengen has now hit the buffers of the real world and is falling apart.”
Britain doesn’t have to worry about Schengen – it opted out from the outset and has no intention of joining.
Written by Peter Needham