Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Schengen travel area and Irish sovereignty

We’ve heard a lot about the fear of losing our sovereignty during the recent economic disruption. Most people would acknowledge that membership of the EU involves exactly that but at least this was by the consent, even the desire, of the great majority of Irish voters.

So why then is it taken as an article of faith that Ireland should have opted out of the Schengen agreement, which guarantees passport free travel to those citizens who live in most EU states? More importantly, it also means that tourist and business visitors to Europe, notably from the two important present-day economic blocs, China and India, can move freely within the Schengen area by obtaining a single, Schengen, visa. To travel to Ireland from, for example, France these individuals would have to apply for a separate Irish visa, which many do not regard as worth the trouble. There is evidence that the Republic is losing out economically because of the loss of wealthy tourists and customers for services from outside the EU, because of this requirement.

The only reason we are not in Schengen is because the UK objects to it and if the Republic were to join passports would have to be shown at the border with Northern Ireland. While this would be onerous, it is not a sufficient reason for the Republic to have acquiesced to UK travel policy without, at least, a debate on the matter. Where is our sovereignty in this instance?


Alan McNab said...

Very fair point Seamus, the decision (or declaration) seems to have come and gone without any Irish debate. What can be done to reverse this?

Stack Six said...

We'd have to start a debate.

Perhaps we could get a discussion going over in Doheny & Nesbitt's?

nick said...

wake up seamus the schengen is the thin edge of far worst things to come learn history of the world and work it out;we allready are undermined by the eu;govenments only take taxs ect and make you keep running; the eu is a load of horse shit and do not give.only take and take; they piss up your back and tell you its raining; they tell you what need but dont ask you first;lets get real