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The European Immigration Crisis
Cost of Shutting Schengen: Over €100B

In the wake of an unprecedented migrant crisis, many European nations have shuttered their borders, and some, such as Germany, are considering keeping them shut for up to two years. That move would amount to the de facto end of the open-borders Schengen Zone scheme, at least for the near future, and would carry serious costs. Reuters UK reports:

A permanent return to frontier controls in Europe would cost countries in the Schengen open-borders area about 110 billion euros (83 billion pounds) over the next decade, the French government’s official think-tank said on Wednesday. [. . .]

A study by France Strategie, a think-tank directly attached to the prime minister’s office, said the drop in cross-border tourism and trade brought on by a permanent end of the free-travel area would cost Europe 0.8 percent of economic output over 10 years.

Schengen is often hailed as a great success for peace and soft power, a policy that builds ties between nations that used to fight each other by allowing easy tourism—and so forth. And it does. But at its core, the Schengen system is one of the EU’s most important economic tools. Consider the industrial cities of Liege, Maastricht, and Aaachen. All three lie about 20 miles apart from one another. Yet because the first is in Belgium, the second in the Netherlands, and the third in Germany, crossing between them for meetings, deliveries, or even just a shopping trip would, without Schengen, involve multiple border checks. Multiply these inefficiencies by the number of similar such situations in Europe—44 percent of Luxembourg’s workforce is made up of commuters from other countries—and you have a serious economic cost associated with border controls.

This seems to be borne out by economic studies. The WSJ reports on figures from the European Commission:

The commission, the bloc’s executive arm, has calculated that the delay encountered by road-transport operations alone would amount to €3 billion per year, assuming each truck crosses one border and has an additional waiting time of one hour.

The commission also said the approximate cost for the express-parcels industry alone could be more than €80 million a year.The commission’s spokesman said on Wednesday that in-house think tank EPSC would come forward with an estimate of the total cost in the near future.

And, as the FT notes, “Several academic studies estimate that passport-free travel has boosted trade by 10 per cent to 20 per cent within the zone.”

Most European economies are not in a position to bear this sort of drag lightly. But given the chaotic nature of the refugee crisis as well as the concomitant security concerns—the lack of border checks between France and Belgium made it harder to track the Paris attackers, for instance—European governments may not feel they have much of a choice.

Day by day, it becomes clearer: Europe either needs to get its immigration situation under control, or watch much of the way of life it has built for itself disappear under its very eyes.

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  • WigWag

    “Day by day, it becomes clearer: Europe either needs to get its immigration situation under control, or watch much of the way of life it has built for itself disappear under its very eyes.” (Via Meadia)

    Get real; Europe is not going to get its immigration situation under control. Europe has neither the will, the vitality, the leadership or the stomach to do what it takes to fix this problem. There is no fortifying elixir that will provide a magical solution to the immense problems that Europe has constructed for itself.

    Face it, Europe is not dying for lack of a cure for what ails it; Europe is dying because it no longer has the will to live. Europe is committing suicide voluntarily. The disease afflicting much of Europe is the same disease that afflicts the left in the United States; it goes by the name of self-hatred. Europeans are disgusted by their history and they’re overwhelmed by guilt about it. European elites believe that Europeans are too racist, sexist, homophobic and imperialistic to deserve to have a place in the world; that’s why they want their nations to die. They’re getting their way; dying they are.

    The major reason that European elites hate moderate and right wing Americans and virtually all Israelis is that most Americans and Israelis refuse to emulate European self-hatred. Nothing infuriates Europeans more than when people who look like them seem immune to their disease.

    Americans need to be careful though; a substantial subset of our thought leaders have caught the European illness; mostly its to be found on college campuses, in the arts community, in the press and in any place populated mostly by Democrats. But it’s not just Democrats, Republican elites are perfectly happy to ignore the spreading malady if doing so allows them to put just a few extra cents into their already overflowing pockets.

    The monstrous Chancellor Merkel reminds me of no one so much as Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian who set himself on fire and started the “Arab Spring.” The difference is that Bouazizi killed only himself, the self-immolation that Merkel unleashed is destroying a continent.

    In her heart of hearts (and in the heart of hearts of European leaders like her), I suspect she’s really happy about the immigration crisis. It’s killing her country; which is precisely what she yearns for.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Exceptionally good….see my own comments on NATO as a (pale) supplement to your own.
      One minor comment. Merkel is an Ossi, after all….perhaps HER society does ‘deserve it’

      • WigWag

        Yep, Germany’s way of life is changing. After the massive wave of sexual assaults in Cologne on New Years, the same phenomenon is occurring now during Cologne’s carnival celebration. See,

        Yet the progressive left, which is usually hyper attuned to anything even reminiscent of sexism, is so self-hating that they will do almost anything to give the immigrant perpetrators a pass.

        After all, the people doing the assaulting are Arab and North African. It can’t possibly be their fault.

        The women being attacked are white and European. They must be to blame. Even if they’re not personally to blame, there must be something about European behavior which caused the Arabs and North Africans to behave this way.

  • Fat_Man

    If you think it is expensive to close Schengen, you should look at the cost to keep it going. I would hazard that it would be orders of magnitude higher. Think about putting all those refugees on the dole for the rest of their natural lives.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I completely agree with you, I also have deep skepticism regarding the ‘costs’ of ending Schengen. It always seems as if the Eurocrats find that the costs of doing just what they want are lower than those associated with what they don’t want. How very convenient.

  • CapitalHawk

    I’ve seen others refer to borders as being like the doors to a house. If I lock the front and back doors, I don’t need to lock the door to my bedroom. Europe refused to lock the front door, millions poured in, and now they are frantically trying to lock themselves in their respective bedrooms.

  • dawnsblood

    I suspect a lot of those costs could be mitigated if they wanted to. Each country could offer ‘permanent’ visas to trusted border-crossers along with ‘express lanes’ for them or something along those lines. All I know is there is no way to for all the Schengen countries to have different immigration standards without all of them (de facto) sharing the weakest standard implemented by a member country.

    They either have to share a standard, tolerate the weakest one put in place by a member country or end Schengen. As of right now they are drifting towards the latter.

  • Even before Schengen the Benelux countries shared a common customs area. There were no border checks between them even in the 1960s. Yeah, I’m old enough to know that.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Yes, but they weren’t insane enough to tolerate unlimited immigration from regions composed of barbarians

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