OSW Report

Consequences of the Schengen area enlargement for the EU's Eastern European Neighbours

Main points

1. The accession of the new EU member'states to the Schengen area completes the gradual implementation of increasingly strict visa and border policies in relation to the Eastern European neighbourhood, which'started with the introduction of the visa obligation. However, the implementation of the Schengen acquis will also have other, more noticeable consequences. The most important obstacles will concern visa aspects, namely, the prices of visas and the restrictive visa procedures. On the other hand, with visas to the new EU member states, nationals of the neighbouring countries will be able to travel almost anywhere in the EU (except for the UK and Ireland).

2. The most important immediate consequences of enlarging the'schengen area may include a reduced intensity in the cross-border movement of people (especially in the initial period), as well as social and economic problems in the border regions. With the'schengen rules in force, it will be much more difficult for nationals of the neighbouring countries to engage in petty crossborder trade or take up'seasonal jobs abroad. Persons travelling independently (rather than in groups) will experience the greatest difficulties. Finally, as a result of the borders tightening, organised criminal groups may gain control of an even larger proportion of illegal migration and smuggling.

3. The new situation will affect individual neighbouring countries to different degrees. Belarusian and Ukrainian nationals will face the most radical changes; for the former, the visa price will increase to 60 EUR, and for the latter, the current liberal visa policies operated by Poland and Hungary will be toughened.

4. The present enlargement of the Schengen area will establish the foundations of Europe's geopolitical landscape for many years to come. This is why it must not be considered as a purely technical issue. Accession to the Schengen area will affect the eastern policies of the new EU member states as well as the perception of Europe in the neighbouring countries. It will also have an impact on labour markets within the EU, the shape of co-operation with the EU's neighbours, and tourism.

5. The new EU member states' accession to schengen area will lessen their attractions for the people and governments of Eastern European neighbouring'states by making them less convincing as advocates of the idea of united Europe. As a way to minimise these losses, these countries may make use of the exemptions and facilitations that fall into their national competences under the Schengen acquis. However, the only way to address the challenges created by the Schengen enlargement in the longer term is to effectively encourage modifications to the Schengen rules and the Community's policies in relation to particular neighbour states.



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