European Commission

News | 04/03/2016

Refugee crisis: Back to Schengen

Ahead of the summit on 7 March, the Commission presents its proposal for restoring a fully functioning Schengen system and announces the first projects under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. It also publishes the Turkey Visa Progress Report.

The creation of the Schengen area without internal borders has brought important benefits to European citizens and business alike, yet in recent months the system has been severely tested by the refugee crisis. Today the Commission has presented a detailed Roadmap of the concrete steps needed to return order to the management of the EU's external and internal borders. The Roadmap covers the following aspects:

  1. Ensuring the protection of the external borders
  2. Immediate support for Greece
  3. Applying the rules and stopping the wave-through approach
  4. Internal border controls: from a patchwork to a coherent approach

The objective would be to lift all internal border controls by December, so that there can be a return to a normally functioning Schengen area by the end of 2016.

Our partnership with Turkey is vital to effectively address the refugee crisis, and we have put our relationship on a new footing. The Turkey-EU Action Plan aims at stepping up cooperation for the support of Syrian refugees under temporary protection and their host communities in Turkey and at stemming irregular migration. Today the European Commission announced the first projects under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, pledging €55 million to address the immediate needs of Syrian school-children in Turkey for access to formal education, and €40 million in humanitarian aid through the World Food Programme (WFP) working in close cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent.

The Commission has also adopted the second report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap.  It notes that Turkey has accelerated the reform process aimed at fulfilling the requirements of the Roadmap.

The Cost of Non-Schengen

Temporary border controls not only hamper the free movement of persons, they also come with significant economic costs. The Commission has estimated that a full re-establishment of border controls within the Schengen area would generate immediate direct costs of between €5 and €18 billion annually (or 0.05%-0.13% of GDP). These costs would be concentrated on certain actors and regions but would inevitably impact the EU economy as a whole. For example:

  • Member States such as Poland, the Netherlands or Germany would face more than €500 million of additional costs for the road transport of traded goods;
  • Spain or the Czech Republic would see their businesses paying more than €200 million in additional costs;
  • Border controls would cost the 1.7 million cross-border workers, or the firms that employ them, between €2.5 and €4.5 billion in terms of time lost;
  • At least 13 million tourist nights could be lost, with a total cost of €1.2 billion;
  • At least €1.1 billion of administrative costs would have to be paid by governments due to the need for increased staff for border controls.

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