For readers who are new to our “Camp of the Saints” series: the title refers to the apocalyptic refugee scenario described in Jean Raspail’s novel The Camp of the Saints.
There has been much discussion in previous “Camp of the Saints” articles about the Schengen Agreement, which grants citizens from the signatory nations (most of which are EU members) the right to move about freely within the Schengen Area.
Italy recently granted temporary residency visas to thousands of boat people who have arrived from North Africa since January. Presumably the Italians were hoping that many of the enrichers would decamp to a more northerly clime, thereby relieving them of some of the dubious consequences of mass cultural enrichment.
Many countries from the rest of the European Union denounced the Italian action, and insisted they would block the new immigrants from crossing into their countries. France in particular is adamant that ils ne passeront pas, and has tightened its border crossings with Italy to keep unwanted migrants from getting through.
Our English correspondent Lawman (who is a lawyer by trade) has done some research on Schengen, and concludes that the French (and other European countries) have the law on their side. He compiled this report for Gates of Vienna:
Concerning the “Camp of the Saints” articles: most cultural enrichment stories are more depressing than funny, but not this one — it has so many EU top brass wriggling.
There’s good stuff about Schengen on Wikipedia, but it’s boring. So I thought I’d try to give you a summary as I see it.
The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1995, completely separate from EU law. I suspect it was prompted by Reagan’s speech to the EU Parliament in 1985: “It is my hope that in the 21st century, which is only 15 years away, all Europeans, from Moscow to Lisbon, will be able to travel without a passport“. No self-respecting anti-American eurocrat will admit that, though.
In 1997 the EU took over the Schengen ‘acquis’ (body of laws) by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Schengen became another branch of EU admin, subject to EU voting rules and not the rules set out in the Schengen Treaty. The non-EU Schengen countries, Norway and Iceland, were given new rights on changes to the Schengen rules: “Take it or sod off!”
The Schengen rules are EU law. Just as much as, say, the vital EU framework decision on the importation of caramel.
To my surprise, the law seems to favour the French/Germans/Austrians/Dutch governments who have a beef with Italy.
The procedure for granting the Schengen visa is that the culture-enricher must say which Schengen country he’s aiming for, and then apply to that country for the Schengen visa. If he can’t say what country he wants to inflict himself on he applies to the “country of first entry”, Italy.
It can be said that Italy is breaking the spirit of the Schengen rules. First, because most of the enrichers must be grinning at the Italian border bureaucrats and saying: “Don’t worry, I don’t like Italy and I’ll be out of your hair as sooner than you can say ‘The feeling’s mutual’”.
Also, the Schengen rules appear to treat refugees differently from Schengen travellers. They don’t get Schengen rights, but asylum. OK I know it’s the same thing in practice.
The main EU law dealing with border controls against ‘third-party nationals’ (enrichers) is: “REGULATION (EC) No 562/2006, establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code [pdf])”.
Article 3 states that:
This Regulation shall apply to any person crossing the internal or external borders of Member States, without prejudice to:
(a) the rights of persons enjoying the Community right of free movement (b) the rights of refugees and persons requesting international protection, in particular as regards non-refoulement.
‘Refoulement’ doesn’t have anything to do with Islamic world plumbing standards. It means sending you back to the crummy hole you rode in from.
Italy seems to be saying: “You won’t take these refugees? Fine, we’ll call ’em travellers enjoying the Community right of free movement!” Not cricket, I think you’ll agree.
Article 5 also says:
Entry conditions for third-country nationals
1. For stays not exceeding three months per six-month period, the entry conditions for third-country nationals shall be the following: (a) they are in possession of a valid travel document or documents authorising them to cross the border; (b) they are in possession of a valid visa, if required pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 of 15 March 2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (1), except where they hold a valid residence permit; (c) they justify the purpose and conditions of the intended stay, and they have sufficient means of subsistence, both for the duration of the intended stay and for the return to their country of origin or transit to a third country into which they are certain to be admitted, or are in a position to acquire such means lawfully; (d) they are not persons for whom an alert has been issued in the SIS for the purposes of refusing entry; (e) they are not considered to be a threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any of the Member States, in particular where no alert has been issued in Member States’ national data bases for the purposes of refusing entry on the same grounds. 2. A non-exhaustive list of supporting documents which the border guard may request from the third-country national in order to verify the fulfilment of the conditions set out in paragraph 1, point c, is included in Annex I. 3. Means of subsistence shall be assessed in accordance with the duration and the purpose of the stay and by reference to average prices in the Member State(s) concerned for board and lodging in budget accommodation, multiplied by the number of days stayed.”
Loosely translated this means that the enricher:
- must have a valid passport. France decides what’s a valid passport.
- must have a valid visa.
- has a good reason for gracing our shores, plus enough dough to live and get back to aforesaid crummy hole.
- isn’t a known crook.
- isn’t a threat to “public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any Schengen state”.
Well, that one’s broad enough to keep him out right there. Especially given the effect on relations between Italy and the rest. So France/Germany/Austria have all the get-out they need to keep the enrichers sunbathing in the land of Michelangelo for ever.
It may be legal, but it’s stupid, and everything about the situation illustrates how out of touch EU law is. And it’s coming to breaking point. Italy can’t shut the door on enrichers. Italy can’t pass on its enrichers. Italy can’t send back enrichers except by EU law, i.e. never.
What I think they’re doing is banking on Italy being the first to give EU law the full-on finger.
Effectively they’re saying: “You Italians have always had a healthily relaxed attitude to EU law, especially when it comes to — oh, I don’t know — agricultural subsidies. So get healthily relaxed now! And pronto, because we don’t want ’em any more than you do. Tow ’em back! Put ’em on planes! Sink ’em! We’ll puff and blow about the reputation of the EU, but we won’t do anything. And after a decent interval it’ll give us the nod to get rid of some of our own. And forget this talk about leaving the EU. It won’t help you when you’re in line for a bailout. And if you’re thinking of reintroducing the lira, well, don’t make us laugh.”
Italy is fuming about being manoeuvred into doing the dirty work for the rest of the EU, and who can blame them?