On the 17th of October EU summit is to take place — primary issue on the agenda of the day is the extension of Schengen zone to the EU freshmen of Bulgaria and Romania. Yet, the latest events have endangered the Schengen extension. Holland and Finland object to that, while all of the EU decisions are made on the consensus grounds.
Dutch Minister of Immigration Matters Gerd Leers has recently made an utterly unequivocal statement:
«Our position is clear — we do not support Bulgarian and Romanian entry into the Schengen Treaty. We’re referring not just to the technical commitments but also to the fight against organized crime and corruption. We may have eight perfect locks on the door, yet if the person at the door lets everyone in we’re having a trouble. We have to see Bulgaria and Romania entering the path of irreversible progress in order to trust them. Europe is seized with a major crisis and we beg all the Europeans of solidarity, beg them to work together. This is only possible once we convince everyone that the European cooperation is organized in the best possible way, if every country does its best to reach goal and if we fight the crime together. We have to be 100% sure that all of this is fully applied to Bulgaria and Romania».
Holland made the first moves in that direction as far back as in June, when Hungary presided over the EU. Then Poland, whose chairmanship followed the Hungarian one and lasted since July to December, prioritized the expansion of the Schengen Zone. After a disastrous sitting of the EU Ministers of Interior in Brussels Polish Minister of Interior Jerzy Miller made a special statement in that regard:
«Two states have made the decision to expand the Schengen zone impossible. We lacked the courage to state that we act in solidarity rather than separately. This fact awakened faintheartedness and feeling of a lost trust in me. When Bulgaria and Romania were drafting for the EU membership we had promised them to accept them into the Schengen zone as well. They’ve seen to all the preconditions as far back as in April and today we’ve broken the given promise».
Poland suggested a compromise to solve this self-esteem-sensitive case of the new (since 2007) EU members. Its essence is the establishment of a two-step transitional period: firstly the customs and passport control is to be abolished at the airport and naval port customs, and then at the ground border points. Holland explained its denial with the mistrust for the Schengen zone to-be-members, which stops it from entrusting them with the security of the external EU borders and giving access to the Schengen information system. Finland, though, objects to the imposition of the Polish two-step entry initiative.
In fact, according to a certain European diplomat from the environment of Baroness Ashton, Dutch protest against the expansion of the Schengen zone is caused by political reasons. Holland is afraid of the immigration inflow from Bulgaria and Romania. The latter ones, in their turn, cannot rule out the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the EU in a European Court. Besides, this situation may bring the notorious customs wars back to life. Following this simple way, Romania as already detained a large consignment of the famous Dutch tulips, having claimed that they might be infected with dangerous bacteria. Dutch response came pat. Dutch MP Esther de Lange sent Michelle Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, a request to see into this matter: «The Romanian authorities have seemingly chosen Dutch tulips, the key element of our economy with great symbolical meaning, as a mean of the old-fashioned blackmailing».
Dutch government hasn’t stood aside either, demanding the Romanian authorities to explain the reasons for detaining the tulips at the border. Spokesman for Romanian Ministry of Economics Murco Mijnlieff explained Dutchmen that they have no grounds whatsoever to suspect that the tulip detention is somehow connected to the Dutch take on the Romanian membership in the Schengen zone. Romanian authorities dispatched the tulip samples for a lab research. Mrs. de Lange required showing her the results of this research in case if some bacteria are discovered in the Dutch flowers.
Bulgaria has chosen a more civilized path. In his interview to the Radio of Bulgaria Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Mladenov announced that the decision not to accept Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen space is «extremely unfair» and emphasized that it is conditioned by internal problems of Holland and Finland. Mladenov threatened the EU that in response Bulgaria may start hindering the decision-making process in the EU itself: «Don’t forget, though, that Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and when it comes to the interests of our citizens, we’ll champion them with dignity and won’t allow treating them like second-class people. We’re not aspirants for the EU membership, but rather its full-fledged members and we participate in the decision-making process of the united Europe. Not a single important decision will pass the Council of Europe without our participation».
Contradictions within such a large supranational institution as the EU, which unifies 27 countries, are only natural. However, the fact that this time they affect one of the cornerstones of the united Europe — territorial integrity principle, cannot but makes us anxious.
Is that a fear of global crisis, which may trigger the catastrophe for not just Europeans? Or is it the internationalization of a sinister trend of social stratification, capable of collapsing not just the social-economic principles that the developed countries rest upon but the very stability of these countries? Intensifying protests against the outwardly prosperous capitalism threatens the global political way of the life, in Europe first and foremost.
Contemporary capitalism is not associated with a fair, tough work and the risk of certain talented individuals anymore. The belief that the culprits of crisis have shifted the responsibility onto the state shoulders has deeply rooted in the public conscience. French economist Pierre Docque dubs the contemporary appearance of capitalism a system of the organized greed. Many liberal sociologists (not even a bit radical) profoundly ponder over the competition of liberal and authoritarian models, referring to China as the example of the latter one at that. Conventional understanding of capitalism as the system based upon free entrepreneurship and private property right (which personal freedom rests upon) is being eroded. Global capitalism is all the more often viewed as an ominous power, manipulating the lots of countries and people due to some vague rules. It takes a mere trifle for markets to go wild, destroying the savings of common people and the entire state financial systems. This anonymous, capricious and merciless power annoys everyone. Even the giants like the USA and the European Union are too weak to match the power of the market.
Tensity of the situation is building up. «Native» Europeans apprehend immigrants, immigrants are concerned with their own neighbors, rich are afraid of poor, poor hate and fear the rich, democrats are afraid of populists, populists cautiously squint at the dissidents. They are altogether frightened by the climate and anthropogenic catastrophes, famine and social outbursts. Democracy provides salvation from neither of these fears. Nationalist and populist political parties are on the rise. For the first time since the 1930s middle class is filled with fear and anger. French historian Pierre Rosanvallon calls Europe for restorations of equity and social justice principles: «The market cannot define social goals, therefore, it is for citizens and their representatives in the government bodies to decide».
The EU scandal with extension of the Schengen zone is merely a private case of the global cataclysms that the modern societies go through. The times, they are a-changing before our eyes. Democracy in its common form deceases. It will either be saved by a rebellion in the name of equity, or submerge into the authoritarian populism. That the choice we face.