Lennox: Europe must restore its internal borders

Dennis Lennox

Europe must restore its internal national borders in the wake of the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris.

Through what is known as the Schengen Agreement, the borders between France and 25 other European countries are little more than lines on a map.

Schengen allows anyone — you, me, a European or a terrorist — to move freely across national borders without hindrance.

For those from outside Europe, the only check occurs at the initial point of entry. Those who have flown to Europe know this is a nominal check at best. After receiving the once-over your passport is stamped and you are free to go almost anywhere.

While Schengen was established to allow the free movement of Europeans, it has had the unintended consequence of enabling terrorists as well as those who engage in human trafficking, the illegal drug trade and other nefarious smuggling schemes.

The obvious solution is the elimination of Schengen, though this is easier said than done.

Schengen is an integral component of the decades-long movement toward a United States of Europe at the heart and soul of the European Union. The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, calls Schengen “a unique symbol of European integration.”

Just as they ruled out the end of the euro — the common currency used in most of Europe — or the expelling of countries from the euro that brought the continent’s economy to the brink of collapse, the proponents of Schengen won’t concede defeat.

Rather, they will respond to Paris with calls for deeper integration between the EU’s 28 members, as if further sharing of resources and information between countries or even a common European border control force would actually work.

Even stricter scrutiny at points of entry can do little when Europe has no idea who is within its national borders, as evident by the fact that the terrorists drove a rental car from Belgium to Le Bataclan, the Paris concert hall where 89 people were murdered.

What makes the situation even worse is that EU leaders have known that Schengen in its present form is unworkable for a decade now.

It was one thing when France and the neighboring countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the then-West Germany signed Schengen in 1985.

But today, all a terrorist from ISIS has to do is get into Greece or Italy, which has become considerably easier to do with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Once in Europe, they can go almost anywhere on the continent hassle-free.

Nothing can prevent terrorists from again striking Europe, but the elimination of Schengen and the restoration of national borders would go a long ways toward stopping future attacks.

Just ask Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian terrorist whose Millennium Plot was foiled by an alert border control agent as he attempted to drive into the United States from Canada with an explosives-laden car.

Dennis Lennox is a freelance columnist.