Sunday, November 29, 2015

Europe's single currency would come under threat if the Schengen visa-free travel zone fails, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday, in his first speech to the European Parliament since the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.  Juncker warned that the euro is pointless if people can't move around freely to use it.  “If the spirit of Schengen leaves us ... we’ll lose more than the Schengen agreement. A single currency doesn’t make sense if Schengen fails,” Juncker told the parliamentarians. “Schengen is one of the main pillars of the construction of Europe,” he added. The Schengen system of open borders has come under pressure as EU member states struggle to stop the influx of refugees - a level of displaced not seen since the end of World War II.  Schengen has 26 members, though a few are not EU states.  It is one of the major achievements of the European Union, allowing for free flow of people and goods. “We have to safeguard the spirit behind the Schengen agreement,” Junkcer said, admitting: “The Schengen system is partly comatose.”ose who believe in Europe, those who believe in its values and principles, freedoms, must breathe new life into the spirit behind Schengen,” he noted. “A single currency doesn’t make sense if Schengen fails,” he repeated. He again warned against equating terrorists with refugees, saying politicians should not exploit the tragic Paris attacks.  “Those who carried out these attacks in Paris, those who incited these attacks, are the same people who are forcing the unlucky of this planet to flee, please dot get things mixed up,” Juncker said. Speaking at the parliament, where legislation on sharing airline passengers’ data has stalled, Junkcer called on MEPs to cover people flying within the EU in the law.  He also confirmed the EU commission willi come forward with proposals on an EU-wide border guard and coast guard system in December, and called for more effective cooperation between European intelligence services.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

POULOS / Staff columnist

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Fourteen years is a long time to wait to feel back at square one. Yet for Americans of a certain age on 9/11, the Paris attacks laid bare just how far we still have to go in the long haul against bad guys, in general, and terroristic jihadis, in particular.

And for Americans old enough to have trusted instinctively on the more than token participation of a major ally in combat operations, the question is unavoidable as to whether we can count on Europe to measure up as a full partner in the slog to come.

Of course, in our trans-Atlantic case, shared combat has always arisen from shared culture. In a mortal crisis, what unites the U.S. and Europe really is greater than what divides us. Even when most Europeans seemed prepared to accept a totalitarian fate, the obscenity of such a jagged gulf between their modern tyrannies and their liberal heritage threw millions enough into American arms that even the nuclear-powered Soviets could not make America the lone and last representative of Western civilization.

In slightly altered form, the two central questions asked and answered by the Cold War have arisen again. First, where is Europe’s cultural center of gravity? And, second, is it close enough to America’s own to power a potent alliance in fact, not an alliance on paper?