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Temporary border controls catch thousands

The whole spirit of free movement has been put under the microscope by the sheer numbers caught during a brief rescinding of Schengen in parts of southern Germany.

On 14 June 1985 the first signatures were put to the Schengen Agreement on the gradual abolition of checks at common borders, to allow total freedom of travel in most EU countries.  But this June’s G7 Summit in Bavaria, however, highlighted quite what we are missing by not having such checks in place.

For the most part, Schengen seems to work fine. We drive through Europe on holiday and where there used to be long queues in the summer our kids don’t even notice that they have entered a different country. Sometimes, only the changed road surfaces or traffic signs give the game away.

In preparation for the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau, however, Germany decided to partially rescind the 30-year-old Schengen Agreement at certain key crossings, hoping to intercept potentially radical protesters from elsewhere in Europe.

Temporary police booths were set up at land borders, especially with Austria, to allow for increased checks of cars, buses and pedestrians. Train passengers were also more frequently subjected to checks.

Whilst the controls did the trick and no illegal protesters managed to get anywhere near the secluded hideaway of the G7 leaders, the checks also produced other unexpected results: preliminary reports show that there were over 3,500 arrests, more than 1,000 captures of wanted criminals, 5,000 searches, 237 drugs offences and 10,555 infringements of the law of residency in just a few days.

Jörg Radek, Chairman of the Police Trade Union (GdP), claimed that the number of people detected was twice as high as what would typically be found across all of Germany over the same period.

Politicians from Bavaria and Saxony, the two German states most affected by border crime, are now petitioning for stricter passport controls at all times.

They have a point, don’t they?

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