Restart Schengen – 35 Years of Freedom in Europe

“Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.” – what today constitutes the charter of fundamental rights of the EU began 35 years ago as a small-scale agreement: When the five founding states of the EU – Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – signed the Schengen Agreement on 14 June 1985, they probably did not yet foresee the far-reaching consequences this gradual abolition of border controls would have for the further course of the European integration process. The common Schengen area is “an expression of lived freedom and freedom of movement and one of the greatest achievements” in the history of Europe, according to Stephan Thomae, deputy chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the German Bundestag.

Time and again, the Schengen Agreement comes under pressure from daily political events: For instance, during the migration and refugee crisis in 2014 and 2015 as well as during the current Corona crisis. The retreat to national borders and reflexes shows how fragile our, so laboriously created, common space of freedoms is. Reason enough to consider the value of the agreement. There are at least three good reasons to revitalise the spirit of Schengen and to campaign for the maintenance of the four freedoms of goods, services, labour and capital: Continue reading