Schengen Accord Could Collapse Under Stress of Huge Influx of Refugees

The but a sign announces the border between Spain and Portugal, two Schengen states.

The sign announces the border between Spain and Portugal, two Schengen states.

Launched in 1985 by a founding cadre of ten nations, the Schengen accord is seen as one of the key factors in post-World War II European prosperity and peace. Today, however, its principles of open borders for commercial and personal use are being stretched to the limit as an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees converge on the European continent.

Today there are 26 nations signed onto the agreement, but businesses from car makers to logistics companies are sounding the alarm of “horrific” and “devastating” losses if borders are forced to close in response to the migration of refugees.

Already Schengen has been temporarily halted in seven countries to prevent migrants from crossing over their borders. There is a growing fear that there will be an across the continent reversal of Schengen in which expensive border checks will be re-instated, causing delays and other hindrances to business flow.

“A breakdown of Schengen would be horrific for us,” carmaker Opel’s chief executive, Karl-Thomas Neumann, said, noting that Opel depends on the reliable transport of goods and components from Germany, Spain, Poland, Britain and Italy. “We have huge logistics operations in southern Europe; any disruption would have an immediate impact on the bottom line.”

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