Euro will be jeopardised if passport-free zone unravels, Juncker has said
Schengen zone under pressure as migrants stream across the continent
European Commission President said single currency ‘makes no sense’ if Schengen falls
The single currency will be jeopardised if Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone collapses, Jean-Claude Juncker has warned.
The 26-member zone has come under immense pressure as hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa stream across the continent.
With Greece in particular struggling to contain the human tide, countries from Hungary in the south to Denmark in the north have put up temporary border controls to stem the flows, making passport-free travel harder than at any time in decades.
But the European Commission President said allowing the Schengen system to erode with member states reimposing border controls could have consequences for the euro.
The 26-member Schengen zone has come under immense pressure as hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa stream across the continent. Migrants are pictured at a fence erected along the border between Serbia and Hungary
‘If the spirit of Schengen leaves our lands and our hearts, we will lose more than Schengen. A single currency makes no sense if Schengen falls.
‘It is one of the keystones of European construction,’ he said, addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
‘The Schengen system is partially comatose,’ Juncker added. ‘Those who believe in Europe and its values, in its principles and freedoms must try – and try they will – to reanimate the Schengen spirit.’
Juncker’s statement was primarily political in its significance, since the Schengen zone, wich has 22 members from within the EU and four from outside it, is legally distinct from the 19-member euro zone.
The single currency will be jeopardised if Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone collapses, Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured standing) has warned
However, his warning reflected growing concern at EU headquarters in Brussels that intra-EU tensions over the migrant crisis could herald a broader foundering of the post-World War Two war drive for European unity.
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew parallels between the difficulties faced by the Schengen and euro systems, saying quotas for distributing refugees around the EU were needed as part of ‘political solutions’ to preserve Schengen.
‘A distribution of refugees according to economic strength and other conditions … and the readiness for a permanent distribution mechanism … will determine whether the Schengen area will hold in the long term,’ she said.