“Europe Without Borders” and the Future of European Integration: Internal Border Controls in the Schengen Area

“Europe Without Borders” and the Future of European Integration: Internal Border Controls in the Schengen Area

Sevgi Çilingir (Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1188-6.ch027
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The Schengen Area is one of the most remarkable developments of EU integration, signifying supranationalization in a field where national sovereignty is rigorously protected. However, following the migration crisis and the escalation of terrorist attacks in 2015, some member states reintroduced border controls within the area. By 2018, they have exceeded the time limits set by EU law. The Commission called for amendment instead of compliance from member states. This chapter demonstrates recent developments in the field of internal border controls in the Schengen Area with respect to European integration and its future. By inquiring member states' actions and EU institutions' reactions in the context of EU law, it sheds light on whether “Europe without borders” has become an accomplishment of the past. Evaluated in relation to integration models in EU literature and future scenarios for the EU presented by the Commission in 2017, the findings suggest that internal border controls will continue in the course of deepening, despite their contradictory effect.
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The establishment of the Schengen Area began as an intergovernmental initiative of five of the founding members of the Communities (The Benelux Economic Union - Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France) - to gradually remove checks at their common borders. Initially based on international treaties outside Community law - Schengen Agreement (1985) and Implementing Convention (1990) (both in force since 1995), the Schengen acquis gradually became part of EU law. Today, the Schengen Area covers most of EU (excluding Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus) and European Economic Area (including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) territories, with 26 member states.

Schengen Agreement coincided with Single European Act (1986), the first major revision of Treaty of Rome, with the goal of establishing a closer union between member states of the Communities. Since it facilitates free movement of persons required by the single market, the Schengen Area is an integral part of EU integration. It is also connected to other policy fields. Sustainability of an area without internal border controls depends on the provision of security at the external borders. Furthermore, border control is closely related to various ways of entry of third country nationals (TCNs) into EU territories - short-term visits, asylum, immigration, illegal border crossings. It is also related to law enforcement: tackling undocumented migration, international terrorism and organized crime. As a result, the Schengen Area has required and developed alongside common policies on external border control, visa, asylum and immigration, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, all of which are interrelated. (European Commission, 2011; 2017a, p. 2). With the establishment of the EU, these policy fields, classically under the prerogative of sovereign states, were combined under Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) - later called the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) - provisions of the founding treaties. Over time, intergovernmental cooperation turned into common policies with shared competence between member states and the EU (Papagianni, 2006, pp. 8-9). However, integration has been slow and irregular.

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