With millions of migrants fleeing war and destitution in the Middle East to seek asylum in
Europe, the continent’s open-border policy, once lauded as one of the “greatest achievements in the last 60 years, is now viewed as potentially dangerous—and possibly verging on extinction—as some countries within the Schengen Area now closing their borders.
On Jan. 4, Denmark imposed temporary identity checks on its southern border with Germany. The Scandinavian nation joined Sweden, who began checking travelers from Denmark for the first time in 50 years. In addition to the recent closures, Germany implemented strict controls along its Austrian border in September; Hungary sealed its borders with barbed fences in October; and, to slow the access of migrants, Austria plans to erect a fence along its border with fellow Schengen country Slovenia.
According to Germany’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer, the Schengen system “is very important, but it’s in danger due to the flow of refugees. Schaefer echoed other German officials’ calls for a pan-European agreement on how to control the movement of migrants across borders. Schaefer’s certainly not alone. An ambassador in Brussels told The Guardian, “If the flow of refugees is not slowed down in four to six months, people really think Schengen is in terminal trouble.”
As refugees are expected to continue pouring into Europe in 2016, it seems evident that
Europe’s free travel policy will never be as open as it once was.
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.