The latest news form Europe is that passport free travel across the Schengen area may be a thing of the past. In response to the influx of Arab spring’s flood of refugees, “European interior ministers agree to ‘radical revision’ of Schengen amid fears of a flood of migrants from north Africa“.
The extremely scary part of this development is that it is being driven by a “resurgent Europhobic far right across the EU”. Yikes.
In a serious blow to one of the cornerstones of a united, integrated Europe, EU interior ministers embarked on a radical revision of the passport-free travel regime known as the Schengen system to allow the 26 participating governments to restore border controls. The border-free region embraces more than 400m people in 22 EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. It extends from Portugal to Russia’s borders on the Baltic, and from Reykjavik to Turkey’s border with Greece. The move to curb freedom of travel came as the extreme nationalist right, which is increasingly influencing policy across Europe, chalked up a notable victory in Denmark, which announced it would unilaterally re-erect controls on its borders with Germany and Sweden
So, while I am somewhat chilled by the motivation, it would seem Automated Border Control processes at air, land and sea ports for people, and personal and commercial vehicles will be critical to minimize the impact of these measures on cross border facilitation.
I would imagine (and hope) that some of this “Europhobic” hysteria will be tempered over the next few months and years, though in the short term it will likely provide a boost to the industry.
We must, however, be very careful as an industry NOT to be seen as a vehicle for the expression of right wing politics. The consequences of becoming embroiled in the midst of an idealogical struggle will not only be detrimental to the industry but will be a major set back for the work that has been done to promote electronic identity as a path to the preservation and even expansion of privacy and civil liberties.