Our generation has been given numerous epithets: Generation Y, the Erasmus Generation, and now Generation Schengen. During our brief existence, many of us have had the chance to live abroad in one (or several) other countries within the European Union, or travel the Old Continent without the need for a passports or visas. But as the Schengen agreement celebrates its 30th anniversary, it seems more under threat than ever.
Numerous EU countries are considering the possibility of reclaiming control over their national borders (or have already done so). As for the European Commission, they’ve unveiled a proposal to temporarily re-establish internal border controls over the next two years. Besides the fact that this decision puts an end to our dreams of studying for a year abroad, or spending a couple of weeks Interrailing across Europe with rucksack in hand, there’s another important question that needs to be asked: How much is it going to cost us to get rid of Schengen? Answer: a fortune.
According to the French think-tank France Stratégie – a research organisation associated with the French government – reclaiming control over Europe’s national borders would cost 110 billion euros over the course of the next decade. Tourism, foreign investments and transporting merchandise will be the principal victims. The repercussions of this change will go much further than just the freedom of movement. Ditching the agreement would prove uneconomical to boot. Long live Schengen!