The French President has implied that the Schengen zone should be limited to those states who agree to re-allocating migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East.
His remarks made in the Élysée Palace were reported by Polish commercial radio RMF FM. He did not mention any country by name but suggested that any country that refuses to receive re-allocated migrants and refugees should not be a part of the Schengen area.
“It would be better to have fewer countries in the zone. I don’t want to have in the Schengen area countries that are satisfied with the free movement of people and goods, but want to evade the responsibilities that go with that” he said. He also argued that the Schengen area should be reformed so that it is based on “responsibility and solidarity”.
Mr Macron’s comments have been interpreted as a thinly veiled threat to attempt to exclude Central European states such as Poland from Schengen if they do not accept EU policies on migration. It could be part of a two-pronged approach of putting pressure on Central Europe to toe the line along with linking structural funding and other EU payments to adherence to EU policies and values.
The remark presupposes that Central Europe has been the main beneficiary of free movement of people in goods and services. This is an assumption that has been challenged for seeing the matter purely in terms of the EU budget. It fails to take account of the costs borne by Poland and other Central European states in terms of a brain drain and opening of markets to competition well in advance of these states becoming members of the EU.
Mr Macron’s remark is unlikely to be welcome in Germany either. Germany, as emphasized by the German Ambassador to Poland, Rolf Nikel, in an interview with “Poland IN, is not in favour of a “two speed Europe” that would inevitably emerge if countries of Central Europe were to be excluded from Schengen or other key EU initiatives.