Ahead of the summit on the refugees crisis in Europe, which is taking place today between the EU members’ heads of Government or State and Turkey, the EU Commission unveiled the costs of suspending the passport free travel Schengen area.
Following the statistics published today by Eurostat, in 2015, 1,255,600 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union. The number more than doubles that of the previous year. Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis top the ranking of asylum seekers.
Almost 1 out of 3 first time asylum seekers originates from Syria.
Around 29,455 migrants sailed accross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in the first nine weeks of this year, putting their lives at risk. In fact, 418 people died in the mentioned period trying to reach the EU coasts following the data provided by the International Organization for Migration.
Building up again borders inside the Schengen free flow area is not the right answer for refugees in terms of human costs and might suspending Schengen seem a good idea, the fact is that reinstating border controls is not the right answer for the Schengen members in terms of economic costs.
Turkey knows and wants more
The Commission underscores that EU partnership with Turkey is vital to effectively address the refugee crisis.
Today the European Commission announced the first projects under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, pledging €55 million to address the immediate needs of Syrian school-children in Turkey for access to formal education, and €40 million in humanitarian aid through the World Food Programme (WFP) working in close cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent.
The resources of the Facility will come from the EU budget and from EU Member States over 2016 and 2017, reaching a total of up to €3Bn over two years.
The Commission has also adopted the second report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its Visa LiberalisationRoadmap. It notes that Turkey has accelerated the reform processaimed at fulfilling the requirements of the Roadmap.
In the meeting being held today EU’s proposition would be the following: for each migrant person who illegally entered Greece that is accepted by Turkey, the European Authorities would let one syrian refugee legally located in the camps in Turkey enter the European Union.
Turkey is said to ask in change more aid money from the European Union and that the process to allow Turkish nationals visa-less enter into the European Union is accelerated.
Resuming accession taks with Turkey would be another request from the Euro-Asian country to collaborate.
Some Schengen countries ask for reinstating border controls
Of the total number of asylum seekers, the report published by Eurostat points that 362,800 came from Syria (twice the mark reported in 2014). The number of Afghans quadrupled to 178,200 and the amount of Iraqis grew seven
times reaching the 21,500 persons.
Germany registered the highest number of applicants, with 441,800, or 35%, followed by Hungary with 174,400, Sweden with 156,100, and then come Austria, Italy and France.
Austria has recently capped the number of asylum-seekers it will accept daily at its borders to 80, and limited the number of refugees it will let pass through the country. Some Eu countries, including Germany or The Netherlands are for reinstating internal border controls.
The Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code allows states to keep temporary border controls in place for a maximum of two years, “in exceptional circumstances”.
EU Commission, instead, goes for lifting all internal border controls by December 2017, so that there can be a return to a normally functioning Schengen area by the end of 2016.
The action plan recommended by the Commission establishes the following roadmap: first, ensuring the protection of the external borders; second, immediate support for Greece; third, applying the rules and stopping the wave-through approach and fourth, bringing a coherent approach to border controls that would take the place of the actual incoherent patchwork of country actions.
€18Bn , the annual price of reinstating inner borders
Temporary border controls not only hamper the free movement of persons, they also come with significant economic costs, that following the numbers unveiled by the EU Commission would reach the €18Bn.
The Commission estimates that a full re-establishment of border controls within the Schengen area would generate immediate direct costs at between €5Bn to €18Bn annually, or what it is the same between 0.05% to 0.13% of GDP.
These costs would concentrate on certain actors and regions but would inevitably impact the EU economy as a whole
Non-Schengen costs, not only would burden EU border countries
The EU Commission underscores just some examples that show how costs would burden EU countries if the borders inside the Schengen area are restablished.
The Commission estimates that member States such as Poland, the Netherlands or Germany would face more than €500 million of additional costs for the road transport of traded goods.
Spain or the Czech Republic would see their businesses paying more than €200 million in additional costs.
Border controls would cause the 1.7 million cross-border workers, or the firms that employ them, between €2.5 and €4.5Bn in costs derived from of time lost. At least 13 million tourist nights worth €1.2Bn could be lost.
And lastbut not least important, governments administrative bill would rise at least in €1.1Bn to provide the staff needed for border controls.
Image over te headline.- Syrian refugees strike in front of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis, Hungary, Central Europe, 4th September 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov, licensed under Wikimedia Commons.
Related external links:
Eurostat report on 1st tme Asylum Seekers in 2015