An article this week in the New York Times discusses the growing frustration with the flow of immigrants coming across European borders. As countries try to protect themselves from the perceived threat of those incoming, more and more checkpoints are being installed along major highways. These checkpoints might well serve the purpose of keeping some out, but they also have the potential to dramatically affect Europe’s economy. With the Schengen Agreement, 22 of the 28 countries in Europe established passport-free borders. This was a monumental achievement that allowed for free trade and travel across much of Europe. Businesses today face a great challenge because transporting goods internationally, which once took only a few hours in some places, now can make trips a multiple day ordeal. The backup, which can sometimes go for miles where traffic once flowed freely, at these checkpoints is enormous and the losses to the European Union’s economy are, too. The French government calculated long-term costs of more than €100 billion and the European Commission estimated $19.6 billion lost in business annually. Those are enormous costs due this new program!
I understand that countries are threatened by large numbers of immigrants entering their countries. There are societal and cultural impacts that they don’t want to face, but are the tighter security measures justified at such a high cost? Europe is still overcoming the recession that hit the world in 2008, so how can they afford to lose so much money now? It appears to be an overly dramatic response to a growing problem and rising frustration throughout Europe. Maybe there is no good solution, but there has to be a cheaper one.