The concept of border control carries with it a lot of baggage. It represents separation, exclusion and nationalism, everything that JEF has fought against for more than 60 years; in 1950, activists of JEF destroyed and burned the border barriers between France and Germany. In 1995 we enthusiastically welcomed the Schengen Agreement and the fall of border control within the EU. In 2011, the inconceivable happens: Commissioner Cecelia Malmström dares to speak those burdensome words: “Tightening internal border control” could be authorized under certain conditions.
One of the tasks of the European Commission is to make advancements with European integration. What is it that pushed Ms. Malmström to decide to favor this border controlling? Italy and France. In these two countries, the governments continue to learn to the right, which is always more populist. The former country is governed by an aristocracy of media, who govern with the League of the North. The latter, the country of Super-Sarko, praises its nationalist voters. And it is the approaching 2012 presidential elections in which the National Front hopes to pick up the votes of Sarcozyists.
Since January, twenty five thousand North Africans have arrived on the costs of Europe, majority of them in Italy and Malta. The Berlusconi government declared itself over capacity and issued temporary residency permits. These allow refugees to travel into other countries, because there are no longer any borders. France was upset by this and ordered its customs officers not to authorize access to its territory except to people with sufficient enough resources.
The European Commission yielded to the pressure and called together the ministers of the interior and of justice for an emergency summit. Next week, they will decide if and how the Schengen Agreement should be revised. The Commission talked to us about “the strict conditions” that should be met in order to authorize new border controls.
Malmström introduces it to us as a clarification of existing rules that were worded in a vague manner. But today the Schengen Agreement already authorizes interim controls when public order is threatened in a serious way. It is the use of these words that has created tension between France and Italy.
Europeans, dig up your axes!
This clarification, perhaps, is the goal of the Commission, but these plans are nothing more than a slap in the face to Europeans. Even beyond the technical rules, it is now symbolism that is hopeless: first of all, in 2011, the European Union found itself discussing interior borders and the crushing of 60 years of efforts for a unified Europe. Secondly, the engine of European integration, the Commission, will undergo before the political interests of the two governments. Thirdly, member states deny that the external borders of the European Union are European borders.
What we need is a European response to a European problem. A response of unity, and not egocentricity! We need a determined European course of action and agreement on the distribution of refugees. Germany is a great example of this: during its time of separation, the different regions of West Germany demonstrated cohesiveness by allocating the refugees of East Germany. Difficulties have been reduced for everyone from the way West Germany acted- as one would expect of a democracy- they did not lock the refugees up in inhuman conditions near its borders, as is the case in Lampedusa. None of the actors involved live up to the honor of the European standard. Not France, who refuses to let enter refugees from regions of crisis. Nor Italy, who distributes resident permits without any consultation. Nor the Commission, who is making border control possible within the European Union.
In 61 years, policy has done nothing. It is up to us, European citizens, to say clearly, “if you reinstate border controls, we will come with our axes and cut them down.”