In what is not all that unexpected, there is momentum growing among EU nations that may result in a total shut down of ‘Schengen’ policy throughout Europe.   For those of you unfamiliar with ‘Schengen’ policy, it is the set of rules that allows anyone to travel within the EU without having to pass through immigration/passport control in each country that is visited.    It’s one of the very best features that has been put in place since the first days of the European Union.

However, with what appears to be a completely out of control migrant crisis brewing in Europe, many member states already have or are planning to suspend ‘Schengen’ which would require everyone to pass through customs and passport control when travel between different countries in Europe.   The freedom to move about Europe would be gone.  A handful of countries, including Belgium as well as Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Norway have already suspended elements of Schengen.

On Thursday, the EU’s Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship, and Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos suggested that Schengen rules will most likely be suspended in the next 10 days if a bloc-wide agreement is not reached.  Specfiically he was quoted as saying ‘In the next 10 days, we need tangible and clear results on the ground. Otherwise there is a risk that the whole system will completely break down’.

Being a politician, there is no doubt that there is a bit of sensationalism in his comment.   His March 7 deadline is simply the date on which  EU leaders are holding an emergency summit to address the Migrant catastrophe taking place in several European nations.  His comments suggested that if a solution is not reached during this meeting, that Schengen rules suspension may spread to all 28 EU Members shortly thereafter.

What does this mean to you?

If you are entering Europe from abroad, you’ll need your passport as usual if you expect to be allowed ‘in’.   The big hassle will be that you’ll need to enter each country ‘formally’ and not just cross the border without any stop to check your credentials.   This may lead to new delays when flying or driving between European countries.  So if you see that Schengen has broken down, plan accordingly and give yourself more time when traveling within Europe.     We’ve been spoiled for over the last 25 years.  Some of you reading this were not even alive the last time you needed to ‘check in’ to each country separately when visiting Europe.   You Millennials have a whole new experience waiting for you!

The upside?

You’ll fill up your passport faster since you’ll have all sorts of new entry and exit stamps……..