The European Union and Open Borders
Recently, we took a look at the economic theory that we can derive from open borders, from the perspective of both the positives and the negatives. However, we don’t have to let our hypothesis exist in our minds as mere theoretical observation. There is a very real and tangible place where we can see the effects of open borders on a massive scale; a place that was torn by conflict, political turmoil, and extreme cultural differences for over thousands of years. This place, of course, is the European Union, a collection of 28 countries in Europe that operate as a single market through which people, goods, and services can move freely from country to country. In terms of the open borders portion of this union, it is granted by something called the Schengen Agreement. Let’s take a look at this real world example…
Open borders are the heart of the European Union
The heart of what the European Union is derives entirely from the concept of open borders. The idea that people from every member country can move freely among the union was a radical and revolutionary idea when the EU was founded in 1993. Essentially, this allows the European Union to function as if it were a single, united economy, while still promoting the sovereignty of each nation and their right to control their own taxes and social welfare. This could not exist with the openness of the borders, which promote a high-acceleration of free trade that is able to boost the GDP of its member nations. This has also allowed the Union to be greater unified in its diversity, which is remarkable progress for a region of the world that has been divided by cultural wars and genocides throughout history.
Granted, not everything has been perfect under the European Union. Many of the former Soviet countries have struggled to reap the same success that other countries have had. However, one issue in many of the ways that people choose to view an economic experiment such as the EU is that they only look for the short term effects. The planning that occurs in the EU has been guided by the opposite mentality, particularly from the mindset of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. Instead, the best, most substantial growth must be accomplished by steadily staying the course.
Currently under threat
Currently, there is a major threat to the continued existence of the European Union, and it is appearing in the form of fears that mass refugee immigration will bring about major cultural and economic implications. While there are valid concerns to have about such a major refugee influx, these fears are quickly being conflated to rampant Islamophobia. Now, countries are beginning to increase border control and it seems as though a great ideological force is threatening to reverse the progress that has catapulted the European Union into the strongest trade entity on the planet.