Europe's open borders closing in response to immigrant flood and terrorism fears.
More than two decades after much of Europe began abolishing border controls under the so-called Schengen Agreement, the free movement of people and products between countries has helped transform the European Union (EU) into the world's largest economy. But as the bloc now grapples with the biggest migration crisis since World War II, the revival of checkpoints on some of the region's most important transport routes is crimping commerce and threatening to cost billions of euros in lost business just as Europe is recovering from a six-year economic slump, reported The New York Times.
With no end to the migrant crisis in sight, some national governments are pushing to expand the number of checkpoints around Europe and extend their use for up to two years. While some calls for suspending Schengen might be political posturing, critics worry that border controls will become a fact of life. Belgium is just the latest country to suspend the Schengen rules, in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels. Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have all implemented new restrictions on the flow of people and freight-carrying trucks crossing their borders from other EU countries.
The Netherlands, home to some of Europe's biggest exporters and importers, is also feeling vulnerable. While the Dutch have not yet ordered border checks, companies warn that costs would surge if Germany blocked their common border or if roadblocks continued elsewhere. The Dutch company FleuraMetz, which delivers roses, tulips and orchids to shops elsewhere in Europe and in North America, has already faced backups of at least 12 hours at Calais, France, near the road entrance to the Eurotunnel that links the Continent to Britain.
With 57 million vehicles a year and 1.7 million workers a day crossing Europe's frontiers, the European Union could face up to 18 billion euros, or $19.6 billion, each year in lost business, steeper freight and commuter costs, interruptions to supply chains, and government outlays for augmented border policing, according to a recent report by the European Commission, the bloc's administrative arm. Should the European Union revert to permanent border checks to slow Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi migrants traveling through Greece and the west Balkans toward Northern Europe, the long-term cost could exceed €100 billion, the French government calculated in a separate study.
Moving goods through Europe? You need to be planning now for deliveries that could cost additional money and time.