Thursday, 24 March 2016

InFacts: Free movement means we can’t control our borders, right?

InFacts: Free movement means we can’t control our borders, right?

by Luke Lythgoe

"Despite what Brexiteers say, Britain doesn’t need to “reclaim control of its borders”. Anyone who wants to enter the UK still needs to present a passport for security checks by a UK Border Force official.

This differs from our EU partners in the Schengen Area, where internal border checks between countries have largely been abolished. The UK has an opt out from the Schengen Area and will never be obliged to join.

One thing that has helped muddle the issue is the migration crisis focussed on Syria, which has led to much talk of Europe’s “leaky borders”. But, in fact, these are the Schengen Area’s leaky borders. The UK’s control of its own borders means that, despite more than one million migrants entering Schengen in 2015, few have reached the UK. The camps in Calais are testament to how difficult it is for irregular non-EU migrants to enter Britain.

Even media organisations who strive for impartiality helped muddle this issue at the height of the migration crisis by using the short-hand “Europe” when Schengen is more accurate (see these BBC, Reuters and FT headlines).

Eurosceptics blame open borders for recent terrorist atrocities. This partly holds true for the Paris attacks. But any jihadi attempting to enter the UK will be checked. Whether they will be apprehended is down to British border officials, not the EU. That would be true if we quit the EU too. Key to catching potential terrorists at the border is intelligence, and the UK will find it easier to cooperate on EU-wide counter-intelligence by remaining in the EU."

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