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Schengen is at risk

, by Kardelen Günaydın, Klemens Kober

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Cross-border free movement without control is de facto out of order in an unprecedented way. Since autumn last year, nine out of 26 Member States have reintroduced border control, six of these are still in place. European leaders are currently stressing that within two months time a “solution” has to be found, implying that otherwise Schengen as we know it will cease to exist. This would mean the end of passport-free travel in Europe. The repercussions of this concerns all of us, as European citizens.

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The Schengen agreement was a breakthrough in the history of the European Union. One of its major goals is strengthening the solidarity between European citizens by removing border controls. Reintroducing them would disrupt the unity of European people.

Free movement is at the centre of the European integration, as well as a fundamental right of EU citizens. Schengen has allowed millions of Europeans to get to know the diversity of our continent through mobility of students, workers and tourists. It has fostered closer ties between EU citizens on a human, cultural and an economic level. Thanks to the Schengen Visa, Non-EU citizens also have the chance to travel all around Europe without dealing with each country’s bureaucratic procedures. Schengen has thus formed a new set of links between citizens of the EU and other countries.

Giving this up will affect us all.

Millions of Europeans are commuting daily across the border to their workplace, European companies have spread their supply chains all over the EU and tens of millions of tourists drive our international understanding and cultural enrichment. The end of Schengen would hamper cross-border interaction of European citizens. Free movement is the single most important tool to fight intra-European prejudices and misconceptions.

Keeping Schengen will strengthen the solidarity among European citizens and refugees, as well as show that values of European citizenship are founded upon inclusion, irrespective of borders. Whereas ending it will come to the help of current proposals of European leaders to cut back on social rights linked to our European citizenship, effectively undermining the basic principle of European integration: non-discrimination. Let’s not be discriminated against and be stripped of our freedom of movement -instead, let’s move towards more federated Europe!

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