EU failure: Freedom of movement rules ‘destroyed’ with 312 breaches in 15 years

EU: Expert discusses coronavirus impact on Schengen area

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And Leigh Evans, chairman of the pro-Brexit think tank Facts4EU, has said the analysis proves once and for all the bloc’s lofty vision has been “destroyed by reality”. Officially, 22 of the EU27, including France and Germany, are members of the Schengen Area, within which all passport and other border controls have been abolished at their mutual borders.

Of the remaining five, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are legally obliged to join when the EU says they can while only Ireland has an opt-out, which it gained as a result of the UK having done so in 1997.

In addition, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, which are not members of the bloc, nevertheless participate in Schengen as members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Mr Evans told “The EU’s idealistic Schengen rules have been destroyed by reality.

“This is yet another example of the EU’s hypocrisy. On the one hand the Commission talks of how the EU is a ‘rules-based organisation’, demanding absolute obedience from the United Kingdom in implementing its clearly unworkable ‘Withdrawal Agreement’.

“This is due to come to a head next month when they are likely to insist to Lord Frost on the full application of this agreement and will impose penalties on the UK once again.

“On the other hand here we have clear evidence that they bend every rule imaginable when it comes to one of their flagship projects – the Schengen borderless zone.”

Mr Evans explained: “Long before the COVID-19 crisis the EU27 countries were ignoring the EU’s ‘open borders’ rules.

“On many occasions, countries took action and then the Commission gave legal cover later.

“In the EU it seems to be one rule for those who support the move towards a superstate and another rule for those (like the UK) who have either rejected this sclerotic empire or who question its increasing powers over their lives.

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“It’s time the United Kingdom made a stand and stood up to the EU Commission.”

Facts4EU’s report points out that France was the first to break the Schengen Zone in 2006, closing the land border with Spain as a result of Basque youth protests in South-West France.

Details are contained within the European Commission’s official list of “Member States’ notifications of the temporary reintroduction of border control at internal borders”.

In total, the list contains 312 breaches since 2006, with Facts4EU’s report suggesting this figure would run “well into four figures” if the imposition of border controls listed each border separately, given EU borders are not purely physical, but also apply to boats and flights between individual member states.

For example, the most recent notification concerns Finland’s internal borders with the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, France, Slovenia, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia.

In other words, one notification affecting 15 member states.

In a fact directly relevant to the UK given its ongoing wrangle with Brussels over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a fact underlined by Mr Evans with his reference to Lord Frost, the report also reveals multiple instances of border controls going up across the EU and being reported to the European Commission after the event.

Breaches have been occurring long before the pandemic – while official European Commission figures taken via Eurostat show ten more since May 1, with just three related to COVID-19.

The remainder involved reasons including terrorism, large illegal immigration and organised crime.

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