Friday

15th Dec 2017

EU businesses push for hi-tech solutions to save Schengen

  • "We have to save Schengen. If it collapses, the internal market will collapse", Business Europe's president, Emma Marcegaglia said. (Photo: BUSINESSEUROPE)

Europe's largest business organisation, Business Europe, pledged on Thursday (3 March) to present a plan for an advanced European border system within a week to save the Schengen area.

"We have to save Schengen. If it collapses, the internal market will collapse", president of Business Europe, Emma Marcegaglia, told members of the group, representing enterprises in 34 European countries.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • "In my view a political decision of the concept should be taken at the latest at the summit on 17 March", said Maria Joao Rodrigues, Portuguese MEP and S&D Group Vice-President. (Photo: BUSINESSEUROPE)

"It is time for the business community to commit to give ideas to solve the problems", she said.

Marcegaglia said she did not think of controlling borders with walls but "with digitalisation, with drones, using technology".

"We are talking about an investment of €30-50 billion per year and made by European companies using their technology and skills and to show that the problem can be solved," she said.

Following a round of phone calls to member associations, Emma Marcegaglia said she expected commitments to present a concrete plan sometime next week, just in time for the upcoming March EU summits on migration.

Limited time

The European Commission has said it would present its proposal on so-called smart borders this spring.

The idea of a European external border control system has circulated for some time, and has several origins. One of them is Maria Joao Rodrigues, a Portuguese MEP and vice-president of the S&D social-democratic group in charge of economic and social policies.

"I am very pleased that the business community is also supporting this idea, which will now have many shapes," she told EUobserver.

"We have the special summit on 7 March and the 17 March summit and in between we have regional elections in Germany," she noted.

"The risk is in particular with the elections in Germany, which could undermine the support for the current government and strengthen the position of those who want to come back to national borders. So this is why we need to come up with big ideas to prevent this risk," she said.

"My basic assumption is that if you want to stop this dangerous trend to go back to national borders, we need to build up a real European border. It should not be the kind of wall we have in Hungary but an infrastructure providing services of public interest. Managing information, logistics, mobility of all these people for the relocation across Europe and proper accommodation. It is a system, an advanced infrastructure and not a wall," said Rodrigues, who, as an expert in EU political economy, is known as the "mother of the Lisbon Strategy" on innovation.

"This is a big investment, which can also create a lot of jobs, because we need recruiting people for all these functions. In my view a political decision of the concept should be taken at the latest at the summit on 17 March," she said.

Man on the Moon project

The price of a Schengen collapse has been calculated by the EU commission as 57 million road transport journeys a year, worth at least €3 billion.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung found in its study that losses could reach €470 billion for the years 2016 to 2025. A third estimate from France suggested that trade between Schengen countries would drop 10-20 percent.

"People want the power of the EU institutions used to solve the problem of immigration. It is a challenge for Europe to show what it is worth", Hans de Boer, president of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, VNO-NC, said to the business audience.

"We have made some Dutch calculations showing that if you would build an intelligent system, not a wall, but a datadriven, high-tech border system, which would also encompass high-quality refugee camps outside of the border it might be a project that would cost on yearly basis around €50 billion which is less than half a percentage of Europe's GDP."

"We would have a project, which would be liked and would be endorsed by the European population. Something like, let's say the man on the moon project by [former US leader] Kennedy," De Boer said.

Would the euro really be in danger without Schengen?

EU Commission president Juncker and chancellor Merkel say there is a direct link between the euro and Schengen, but the single market would not necessarily falter with the reintroduction of border controls.

MEPs question EU border guard proposal

Leftist and Green MEPs criticise proposals that would allow EU border guards greater powers to intervene in member states, questioning legal responsibility for rights violations.

EU ministers to discuss 'smart borders'

EU ministers in Luxembourg Thursday will discuss how to use technology and whether to set up an EU border guard corps to better secure external borders.

Stakeholder

Impact of the refugee crisis on the EU transport sector

The ALDE Group recently hosted a hearing on the human and economic impact of the refugee crisis on the EU transport sector, which would be one of the hardest hit sectors if the Schengen system falls apart.

Magazine

Losing Schengen would hurt EU businesses

Systematic border controls would cost €53 to €130 for every European citizen, according to estimates, but the transport industry is already feeling the pain of border checks within the EU.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  2. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  3. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  4. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  5. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  6. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'
  7. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  8. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives