Schengen is the name of a small town in Luxembourg, made famous by the Treaties signed in 1985 by various European governments which sanctioned the freedom of movement in Europe. That Treaty signature has changed the future of a whole continent, our continent, and the future of many generations, the same generations that today are signing this plea.
Today’s young people were born in a continent without boundaries, where it was possible to travel, to work and to love far beyond national borders, faded lines on the maps. Today, due to the emergency situation that European Union is facing, many governments seem to have found in the suspension of the Schengen Treaty the ultimate solution to the threat of terrorism and the problem of the huge migratory flux originating from the Southern part of the world. This “revolutionary idea” , conceived after many in-depth meetings held at the highest levels, seem to be that of closing borders between member States, those borders that since decades by now are not separating anymore the European people. Yet it is not all that clear what should be the advantage of all this in a world that is globalised, interconnected and full of social instabilities. What we know is that the European Union as it is refuses to take some decisions, some brave decisions, which seem to be essential. Many European governments, for instance, have shown once again that they do not consider the Union’s borders as their own, by refusing to support the European Commission’s proposal of turning the existing FRONTEX mission into a common European border and coastguard. Not to mention the possibility of establishing a joint action that should go beyond the safeguard of borders, for example by planning the creation of an effective European intelligence or by giving concrete responsibilities to a common external policy, enabling it to face the problem of migration fluxes at its very roots.
Unfortunately, a part of the present European ruling class considers, instead, that in order to face the current security challenges it would be easier and more effective if the gates between Italy and Austria were closed. They are deceiving their citizens, assuring them that this is a useful measure, and at the same time they are denying them the right to live in a free, united Europe. A community made up not only of governments, but first and foremost of men and women. So, if this is the best our ruling class is able to do, the young Europeans will be the first to say loud and clear: No.
In several Countries of the European Union JEF-Europe has already launched the “Don’t touch my Schengen” campaign. The initiative has been joined not only by many Parliament members from all the political groups, but also by representatives of the civil society, and by countless young people who do not want to lose their rights and come back to the narrow-mindedness of locked, isolated, suspicious States. The youth organizations that are signing this plea are addressing all those youth- and other entities for which the future of Europe is at stake. They ask them to join this campaign and to show, with the hashtag #DontTouchMySchengen, their disdain towards this old-fashioned and lacking-of-ideas politics.
The solution to many of our contemporary crises cannot be that of building walls (that, by the way, never stopped nobody in history) but, at the contrary, that of heading towards a democratic and federal Europe, which needs to be provided with those institutions that can enable it to face the causes of the systemic crises we are experiencing. The breakthrough of the situation can be achieved only if we don’t content us with the safeguard of the Schengen system and of the current Union setup, deciding to go further than that. Tens of thousands of young people, in Italy and in Europe, are ready to mobilize in order to maintain the European borders open, and at the same time to re-launch the integration process. The construction of Europe is the peak of a centuries-long historic process, and it is young people who should remind us, today, that there is no turning back.
Gioventù Federalista Europea – JEF-Italy
Giovani Democratici – Young Democrats (Italy)
Giovani del Partito Popolare Europeo – Youth of European People’s Party