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Protect Schengen – keep Europe together | EM Germany Telegram on Freedom of Movement

Will the toll barrier come down on the Schengen Agreement and bury freedom of movement in Europe? Ahead of the European Council summit on 18 February, Schengen advocates from all parts of society and abroad have come together to call on Heads of State and Government to defend the right to free movement, one of the EU’s greatest achievements, at their meeting.

In EM Germany’s telegram on free movement and Schengen you will find quotes and statements from our member organisations. The positions demonstrate a broad consensus for free movement of people and goods, which cannot be shaken by the refugee crisis. Employers‘ organisations and trade unionists, NGOs, foundations and educational experts, youth and travel organisations, logistics companies, soldiers and voices from Denmark, Serbia, Brussels and Switzerland make this clear in their statements. That the discussion about Schengen is not just about European values, but also tangible economic factors, is demonstrated by the facts section below titled ‘More on the subject’. Schengen is a major European value. However, it’s also a matter of concrete advantages for society and economy, as the EM Germany member organisations know. The cover story of today’s Spiegel ONLINE summarises the versatile statements of European Movement Germany’s network.

EBD telegram Schengen E

EM Germany Telegram on EM Germany’s polititical demand „Free movement of people as a prerequisite for an open society
German version here.
You find further news on the Freedom of Movement and Schengen via the Newstag „Freizügigkeit“ on our website.


+++Let’s finally give the EU the power to act! +++

Photo: EBD

Photo: EM Germany

Ahead of the European Council summit on Thursday, EM Germany President Dr. Rainer Wend is calling for collective efforts to save Schengen. He condemns the populist duplicity of Member States when dealing with ‘Brussels’ and exhorts Europe to make a clear commitment to Schengen: „Schengen allows transition and short-term compromises. But the social forces which all benefit from a free, pluralistic Europe should not let the national egoism of many national prime ministries to destroy Europe. The European Council must argue clearly for a future with Schengen. Whoever de facto destroys Schengen, destroys the collective ability to act.“ | Statement

Photo: Jens Schicke

+++Border controls would cost billions to Gemany’s economy+++
„Germany’s foreign trade volume lies at 2.6 trillion euros. If stricter border controls would be implemented, arising costs of e.g. only half percent would trigger additional costs of 10 billion euros“, explains Martin Wansleben, chief executive of theGerman Chamber of Industy and Commerce (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK), about the impact of border controls on the German economy. „This evaluation does not refer to the concrete queue time at the borders, but includes services such as tourism. Moreover this does not only apply to the intra-EU trade, but it also encompasses extra-EU trade flows. Politics should therefore take these consequences into consideration“. | Statement


+++Our Schengen, our social rights! +++

Photo: EBD

Photo: EM Germany

Gabriele Bischoff, Special Advisor for ETUC, EESC and EU – Reform at the Confederation of German Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) and EM Germany Board member, defends the social rights that are granted under Schengen: „More than 1.1 million EU citizens – particularly in the border areas – commute daily between two Member States because they live in one country and work in a neighbouring country. Schengen is the key to realising the European promise of free movement and EU citizenship. If Schengen is suspended for much longer or even permanently, then the rights of employees will be dramatically restricted. Therefore: Our Schengen, our social rights! #DontTouchMySchengen“ |Statement


+++Don’t jeopardise European solidarity! +++


Photo: BDA

Europe’s open borders are one of the foundations of the success of Germany’s export-oriented economy, according to the Confederation of German Employers‘ Associations (Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände, BDA). According to BDA President Ingo Kramer: „In recent decades we have reached an agreement on the free exchange of goods and freight and borders without checks. This ensures European solidarity and the common market. We must not jeopardise it.“ | Statement


+++Protect Schengen through European integration+++

Photo: EBD

Photo EM Germany

„A Europe without borders means freedom. Freedom of movement for people to travel, meet, make friends and grow together. Freedom of movement for the economy to develop and prosper. It is worth fighting – against borders – and for freedom,“ says Jo Leinen MEP, President of European Movement International (EMI).

Petros Fassoulas, EMI Secretary General, added: „Free movement of people is one of the most tangible achievements of European integration and one of the fundamental rights of EU citizens. We cannot abandon open internal borders because of an increase in the number of refugees. We need a common policy on migration and refugees, safeguarding of Europe’s external borders and a reform of the Dublin Convention.“ | Statement


+++Schengen is of central importance for Switzerland too+++

Foto: NEB

Photo: NEBS

New European Movement Switzerland . (New European Movement Switzerland, NEBS) therefore stands by the Schengen Agreement  Martin Naef , Member of the Swiss National Council and Co-President of NEBS, emphasises the importance of Switzerland’s participation: “Switzerland’s participation in the Schengen Agreement is of central importance given our country’s location. It is a reflection of economic integration. Its abolition would have hugely negative effects on Switzerland and Its Neighbouring regions “|.  Statement


+++Freedom of movement is one of the values our soldiers risk their lives for +++

Photo: DBwV

Photo: DBwV

In a joint statement, representatives from the German Federal Armed Forces Association (Deutscher BundeswehrVerband, DBwV) make it plain how important the free movement of people is to peace in Europe. „Only if the people of all European countries can meet each other without hindrance, we can hope that future generations will value peace in Europe – and defend it in case of emergency,“ says Captain AndreasSteinmetz, Deputy National Chairman of the DBwV. | Statement


Photo: Christian Kruppa

Photo: Christian Kruppa


+++Schengen is part of the identity of the common internal market+++

A closure of the borders is no solution to the refugee crisis. „Closed borders would have massive economic consequences“, emphasises Ulrich Grillo, president of the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, BDI). „The common internal market is the heart of Europe. The Schengen agreement is an integral part of its identity. This achievement needs to be protected!“ | Statement


+++No freedom of movement? So long, EU!+++

Christian Moos. Photo: EBD

Christian Moos. Photo: EM Germany

Europa-Union Deutschland (the German section of the Union of European Federalists (UEF)) has argued strongly for the integrity of European freedom of movement, but also recognises the need for a controlled refugee policy. „Europe’s fundamental freedoms are interwoven with the achievements of the Schengen area. However, the flow of refugees must be regulated as soon as possible. From this point onwards, international responsibility must be completely redefined. Development cooperation and security policy go hand in hand,“ says Christian Moos, Secretary General of Europa-Union Deutschland and EM Germany Board member. | Statement


+++Closing our borders would have consequences for citizens’ welfare throughout Europe +++


Photo: UPS

A particularly strong advocate of open borders in Europe is the logistics industry. „An integrated and labour-oriented European economy, as we know it today, is not conceivable with closed borders. Faults in international supply chains would impact on the welfare of citizens in all European markets and especially in Germany,“ explains Lars Purkarthofer, Head of Public Affairs at UPS Germany. | Statement


+++The end of Schengen would spoil your holidays+++

DVR Logo

Photo: DRV

Open borders allow hassle-free travel and school trips in Europe. According to the German Travel Association(Deutscher ReiseVerband, DRV) dismantling the Schengen Agreement would spoil the holidays of many European citizens: „Schengen allows European citizens to spend their holidays in the EU unhindered by border controls and bureaucratic processes. Without Schengen the freedom to travel would be severely limited.“ | Statement


+++European integration is inconceivable without open internal borders+++

Kirsten Lühmann, dbb

Photo: EM Germany

„The free movement of people is one of the most important European assets. European integration in its current form is inconceivable without open internal borders“ confirms Kirsten Lühmann, Deputy National Chairman of the German Civil Service Federation (dbb beamtenbund and tarifunion) and EM Germany Board member. „Therefore, the current crisis threatens much more than just an administrative regulation. We cannot allow this situation to continue spiralling out of control; joint solutions are the only viable way out of this. Until then, it is essential that in Germany the necessary personnel are positioned on the borders. Years of cuts and saving have left their mark. This is unacceptable.“ | Statement


+++Schengen is an advantage of location which must be defended+++


Photo: DFK

An export-oriented country like Germany is dependent on permanently open borders, emphasises Dr. Ulrich Goldschmidt, CEO of theGerman Confederation of Managers (Die Führungskräfte, DFK), „Schengen is not just a political achievement, but now also an economic factor. For the entire EU Schengen is an advantage of location which must be defended.“ | Statement



+++A borderless Europe is an integral element of youth in Europe+++

Photo: EBD

Photo: EM Germany

The reaction of many European countries to incoming refugees has been to close their borders. Europe had left these borders behind with the Schengen Agreement. Tobias Köck, Board member of the German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring, DBJR) and EM Germany comments: „For young people, it is crucial to be able to move and meet each other unhindered in Europe. This is a part of their lives. The Schengen Agreement ensures this freedom and it cannot be restricted in any way.“ | Statement


+++Stronger protection for Europe’s external borders+++



The President of our Danish sister organisation (EM Denmark), Stine Bosse, calls for joint solutions for joint problems in Europe. „We must work together to secure the external borders and protect our freedom of movement.“ | Statement


+++ +++ # DontTouchMySchengen

Photo: JEF

Photo: JEF

„Hands off our open internal borders!“ The Young European Federalists (Junge Europäische Föderalisten, JEF) have set out a strong argument in support of open borders with a Europe-wide campaign with the slogan #DontTouchMySchengen. The statement of its National Chairman David Schrock on free movement is equally clear: „What we really need is a reform of the Schengen system. Rather than desperately clinging to supposed national sovereignty, Europe must stick together. Only then can Schengen, one of the most important achievements of Europeanunification, survive.” | Statement

+++Don’t turn the clock back 30 years on educational exchanges+++

Photo: EBB aede

Photo: EBB-aede

The German branch of the European Association of Teachers (European Federation of Education and Science, EBB-AEDE) is deeply Concerned about the possible failure of Schengen and its impact on education in Europe. National Chairman AlfonsScholten Explains: “The impending end of free movement of people in Europe want to take us back to the national small-mindedness of the 1980s and thus complicates exchange in education. If we turn back the clock on the exchange of pupils and students by 30 years, much of the EU’s intercultural capital, capacity for innovation, creativity in business and society, and ran thus its future will be lost “|. Statement


+++Schengen is not just some directive on the shape of cucumbers+++

Photo: EBD

Photo: EM Germany

„The Schengen Agreement is not just some directive on the shape of cucumbers, but rather one of the pillars of European integration over the past 25 years,“ says LinnSelle, winner of Germany’s ‘Women of Europe Award’ in 2015 and EM Germany Board member. She continues: „Unfortunately the agreement didn’t just come under pressure yesterday; every internal security issue in the past decade has been used to further erode it.“ | Statement


+++Were the Schengen area to fail, it would create borders in our minds+++

Photo: KAS

Photo: KAS

„Were the Schengen area to fail, it would create borders in the minds of citizens,“ warns Dr Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, KAS). „This would have dire consequences for economic development in the EU.” | Statement


+++Many retailers rely on cross-border customers+++


Photo: HDE

„Many retailers have adapted to customers from neighbouring countries. Border controls would lead to unmanageable delays in the movement of goods,“ says Stephan Genth, CEO of the German Retail Association(Handelsverband Deutschland, HDE), as he draws attention to the existential importance of open borders for small and medium-sized enterprises in border areas. | Statement


+++ Walls and barbed wire do not belong in 21st-century Europe+++


The President of Germany’s ‘Women of Europe Award’, Gudrun Schmidt-Kärner, warns against splitting Europe with borders: „Some past winners of the ‘Women of Europe Award’have first-hand experience of Europe’s division and have had to flee from their home countries to Germany. Barbed wire and walls do not belong in 21st-century Europe. Europe is only strong when people can meet each other and work together.“ | Statement


+++Were the Schengen area to fail it would be a serious setback+++


In a joint statement Ingo Kramer, President of the Confederation of German Employers‘ Associations(Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände, BDA), UlrichGrillo, President of the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, BDI), and Hans Peter Wollseifer, President of theGerman Confederation of Skilled Crafts (Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks, ZDH), speak of a „serious setback“. „Damage to or even failure of the Schengen area would be a serious setback for the EU and its citizens, for whom freedom of movement and unhindered cross-border business activities are of vital importance.“ | Statement


+++Visa-free travel in the Schengen area has freed Serbian citizens+++

Photo: Mins

Photo: Mins

Maja Bobić, Secretary General of EM Serbia, underlines the importance of free movement of people beyond the Schengen area: „Visa-free system between Serbia and Schengen Zone countries entered into force in late 2009 allowing Serbian citizens to travel to European countries without visa after almost two decades of isolation.“ | More


+++Distinguish between the issues: Border controls do not call Schengen into question+++

Sr Lea Ackermann


„Border controls and refugees do not call Schengen into question,“ emphasises Sr Dr Lea Ackermann, Chairman of Solidarity with Women in Distress, Germany(SOLWODI). „EU interior ministers have merely argued for prolonging border controls for between six months and two years. The free movement of persons will be temporarily restricted; however, the EU and its members do not want to fundamentally challenge Schengen.“ | Statement


+++If the free movement of people is permanently overridden, then the EU is also in danger+++

Photo: privat

Photo: private

Dieter L. Koch, MEP and Regional Chairman of EM Thuringia, views the relaxation of the Schengen Agreement as a dangerous development: „In exceptional circumstances border controls can be authorised for six months. Extending this timeframe means that Schengen is fundamentally being overridden. And if the free movement of people is permanently overridden, then the EU is also in danger.“  | More


+++We must connect the debate about the future of Europe with the debate about social citizenship+++

Photo: Bbe

Photo: Bbe

Before the erosion of the right to free movement in the course of dealing with refugees, Dr Ansgar Klein, CEO of the National Network for Civil Society (Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement, BBE), warned: „We must connect the debate about the future of Europe and the free internal market more strongly with the debate about social citizenship.“ | Statement




+++ More on the subject +++


Quelle: Eurostat / Bruegel Think Tank

The estimated consequences and costs of a possible failure of Schengen:

  • According to European Commission estimates, the systematic introduction of border controls alone could cost between 5 and 18 billion euro. The indirect economic damage to the monetary union in the medium term could be much higher. The most likely scenario would be extra costs to the tune of 7.1 billion euro, explained Brussels authorities in a 22-page paper to the European Parliament and European Council. (See German-language article: „EU warnt vor Milliardenkosten“)
  • Study by the think-tank „France Stratégie“: The economic costs for France are estimated at 13 billion euro in 2025, which would mean a reduction of 0.5 percentage points in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is expected that the GDP of the entire Schengen area would see a reduction of 0.8 percentage points, which would meancosts of more than 100 billion euro.
  • 57 million international instances of road transport within the EU would be affected by border controls (European Commission)
  • Germany generates approximately 2.6 trillion euro in foreign trade; the end of Schengen would mean additional costs of 10 billion euro for German haulage (DIHK)
  • More than 7 million employees live and work in two different EU countries (DGB)
  • 1.7 million cross-border commuters and up to 25 million business journeys would be affected by the discontinuation of Schengen




Graphs and background information

  • 26 countries (including 22 EU countries) belong to the Schengen area, within which it is possible to travel without a passport. Read more:Europe without borders: The Schengen area (European Commission brochure with graphs, data and facts)
  • A map of the Schengen countries
  • Basis for border controls: Regulation (EC) No 562/2006: Legal requirements for the temporary reintroduction of controls at internal borders in exceptional circumstances
  • Where are there border controls? DG Home Affairs: Oversight of countries which have introduced border controls and of the time periods of these border controls. See also personal experiences of travellers on the blog “


EBD telegram Schengen EEM Germany Telegram on EM Germany’s polititical demand „Free movement of people as a prerequisite for an open societyGerman versionhere. You find further news on the Freedom of Movement and Schengen via the Newstag „Freizügigkeit“ on our website.

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