The downside of Schengen: illegal migrants and drug trafficking
Europe is marking twenty years since the creation the Schengen border-free zone allowing free movement of goods, information, money and people. The Czech Republic joined Schengen eight years ago and, in addition to the enormous benefits membership brought, the authorities are increasingly dealing with the downside: illegal migrants and drug trafficking.
Eight years later, as the Schengen zone marks its twentieth birthday, Czechs are one of the most vocal defenders of the privileges it has brought, but together with the 25 other members –four of them non-EU states, they are taking stock of the less positive aspects of border-free travel. For the Czech Republic this is primarily a problem with illegal migrants – both refugees fleeing from civil wars and humanitarian crises areas and economic migrants in search of a better life. The head of the Czech Foreign Police Milan Majer says there has been a significant rise in the number of illegal migrants from both camps.
The increase in illegal migrants has resulted in Schengen member states stepping up controls in the border areas, on international trains, as well as making random checks of cars and trucks. The Czech, German, Austrian and Hungarian police are cooperating closely in this respect, often working together and exchanging information and know-how. The Czech Republic’s cooperation with Germany is particularly intense since the two countries are not just fighting the problem of illegal migrants but the trafficking of the home-made drug crystal methamphetamine across the Czech-German border.