I. The Schengen area, at the outset, is not the direct result of the European construction: because of the slow progress of the institutions in this field, a convention between states was draft, firstly between five countries, including France. It then expanded to 26 countries, including 22 members of the European Union. Its most spectacular and concrete achievement remains the removal of control at the internal borders: the fact of no longer needing to have his passport checked to move within it. Gradually, Schengen law has been incorporated into EU law.
II. Because of migratory flows and security issues, some are proposing to “get out of Schengen”, that is to say to go back to a national system of border control.
But certain realities remain. Firstly, for a resident of a non-member state, the Schengen system is only valid for short stays: below three months, a resident of a third-party state can move freely between several countries space provided they are not reported, have sufficient resources (among others conditions). Beyond three months, it is the States that decide, nationally, to grant or not a visa.
Secondly, the lack of control at the internal borders was matched on the one hand by a harmonization of social rights (ie ease of installation and absence of discrimination, which benefits, inter alia, frontier workers or to French expatriates), on the other hand countervailing measures: deeper police and judicial cooperation, common control at the Union’s external borders …Thirdly, even under the Schengen system, it is possible, in certain circumstances, to re-establish its borders (as France did in November 2015) and even to carry out, without any particular event justifying it, continuous controls, in the vicinity of the borders.
III. The cost of a Schengen exit would be particularly significant : congestion of goods, slowing down of trade, lesser mobility of workers – it is generally quantified at significant amounts (1% of Europe’s GDP according to France-Stratégie). Although this option is defended by political groups, a consensus, yet difficult to implement, exists on the reinforcement of control at the external borders (current reform of the European Border Guard), better cooperation against -terrorist (project, also in progress, of “European Prosecutor’s Office”) and inter-connected advantage files, as well as a harmonization of asylum conditions.