The Heinz 57 varieties of EU hard border controls since the Referendum

Graham Charles Lear
3 min readSep 30, 2019

And yet still the EU pretends the Irish border question is catastrophic for them

German Interior Minister yesterday — Credit: Bundesministerium des Innern

How the EU breaks its own rules with impunity

Yesterday, the German Interior Minister (Sec of State for the Home Office) Horst Seehofer extended the presence of controls at the border between Austria and Germany until spring 2020.

“Security begins at the borders,” he told German media last night.

Don’t tell the Irish, but….

Several EU countries have broken the EU Treaties in respect of border controls for years.

Since the UK’s Referendum in June 2016, there have been 57 occasions on which the EU Schengen Zone’s “open border” rules have been suspended and hard borders reintroduced. In most cases, this has affected several borders.

In several instances, this flouting of EU law has been done by EU countries without any approval by the EU until long after the event.

Furthermore, when hard borders have been introduced, the Schengen rules have then been broken again with repeated extensions being allowed which has made ‘temporary measures’ into permanent fixtures.

Yesterday’s announcement by the Germans was just another in a long line. The most recent instances include Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

If the EU can break the rules for Germany and France, why not for Northern Ireland?

The EU takes Schengen very seriously.

“The Schengen Area is one of the greatest achievements of the EU”
the organisation says proudly.

What about democracy and the all-powerful EU Parliament in all of this?

The EU Parliament tried to intervene earlier this year. They wished to reduce the period of temporary imposition of border controls from six months to two and to reduce the number of times that extensions are permitted.

They then “decided to suspend the negotiations after it became evident that a compromise was not feasible.”

In other words, the only directly-elected body in the EU was powerless.

What is the Schengen agreement?

Schengen is ostensibly a border-free zone across the EU Member States.

Currently, the UK and Ireland are the only two countries to have opt-outs. Of the remaining 26 member states, 22 are full Schengen members, with Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania being legally obliged to join the area when the EU says they can. In addition, the four EFTA states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland also participate in Schengen.

The Schengen code is a fundamental part of one of the EU’s “Four Freedoms”, as it involves free movement.

In March 2016 the EU commission said that:

Schengen would be restored “as quickly as possible and with a clear target date of December 2016.”

In Jan 2017, the EU Commission recommended to the EU Council that countries should continue to be allowed to break the Schengen code for another 3 months.

It’s still broken today.

The EU’s idealistic Schengen rules have been destroyed by reality

The effects of uncontrolled mass migration caused by Angela Merkel’s government and the increased threat from home-grown terrorism has made Schengen virtually unworkable. When the EU refers to ‘border controls’ being extended, it means that the borders in question have had to revert to being normal, hard, international borders and that Schengen has failed.

Is the EU really a “rules-based organisation”?

When the EU claims to be a ‘rules-based organisation’ it clearly isn’t. When the EU tells the UK it must obey the rules and that no compromise is possible on the Northern Ireland border question, why should it listen?

No-one else does.

[ Sources: Bild Am Sonntag | Bundesministerium des Innern | EU Commission | EU Parliament ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.