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FreeMovement.net – mapping breaches of Schengen

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 11.09.02As any regular reader of this blog knows, non-Schengen compliant border controls (and my documentation of them) have been a regular topic in the last few months. I’ve been checked at St Jean de la Maurienne, Buchs, Puttgarden, Oldenburg and Padborg recently, and further in the past at Brenner and Venlo and Paris. With the help of my blog readers I have started to work out what documentation I need to show at borders, and how this varies between different Member States.

All of this work has now culminated in the launch of a new website – FreeMovement.net – that went online yesterday, and has been covered in this week’s New Europe newspaper in Brussels. The basic idea is that if you cross a border and are subjected to a check then you report it. This can be done on the website, or through an iPhone and an Android app. The site is an application of the open source Ushahidi tool.

The idea is that reports from citizens should help work out the patterns of border checks, and that this data could then help push the European Commission to conduct proper investigations about breaches of Schengen. At the moment it seems that some borders – notably in and out of France (especially to Italy), and Denmark-Germany, are hot spots. But as the site develops that pattern may change.

Anyway, if you are a regular border-crosser then do have a look at the site and report breaches as and when you encounter them!


7 Comments

  • Leon S Kennedy |

    This idea is amazing. Congrats, man. Little things like this are what moves bigger stuff.

  • Gunnar - FIN |

    All power to those wanting to report intra-Schengen checks and light up the map on your site. But if there is a shaky legal argument behind the complaints you’ll never get your day in court and can send thousands of them and it won’t help a single EU citizen traveler with ruffled feathers. It may be interesting reading, but to fight EU bureaucracy you need to be able to reason like a lawyer and anticipate what the opposition will base their claims on.

  • JorgeG |

    Good idea, but I think it would be far more interesting and constructive to document the cases (and time the queues) of OBCD (Obsessive Border Control Disorder) that are endemic when you have the temerity to attempt to cross the Schengen-UK border. This obscure journalist from the FT described it in such a supremely poetic fashion that it really deserves being quoted a billion times:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c139d9d0-9a2d-11dc-ad70-0000779fd2ac.html#axzz2S4owWgzu

    “The Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain have gone, to be replaced by the Great Wall of Dover”.
    (…)
    “Part of [the] problem is that harsh Germanic word, Schengen. If only Europe’s borders had been abolished at some place the British find sexy, like St Tropez or Torremolinos, the British might have understood better how their country is starting to mutate into North Korea.”

    … That was 2007… the mutation carries on….

  • Jon |

    Jorge – so why don’t you do it? I now – thankfully – very rarely cross that border. And anyway, the UK policy of border controls is so damned excessive anyway that you would be campaigning for a change of policy.

    My work within Schengen is easier – there are supposed to be no checks but there are still. Here I can point out the difference between rhetoric and reality.

  • JorgeG |

    Jon, I would definitely do it if I had the time and the support. The people who could undertake this task, e.g. the so-called progressive media (is there such a thing in this part of the world?), centre-left ‘think tanks’ (likewise are there any?) are too sheepish to do anything that upsets the establishment.

    You say “the UK policy of border controls is so damned excessive anyway that you would be campaigning for a change of policy”. Precisely, what is wrong with that? I have been trying to do exactly that for the best part of ten years, with obviously zero success…

    How easy could it be to commission piece of work to estimate how much the UK loses out in tourism or business investment income as a result of its refusal to join the real EU single market and then bang on about it at every opportunity.

    You know that there is something very wrong with politicians and democracy in this country when it falls to the unelected chamber, the House of Lords, to sporadically make tiny noises recommending to join Schengen… or at least to think about it:

    “I leave the noble Lord with one thought this afternoon. It is time for us to look pragmatically, coolly and calmly, without hysteria, at the possible advantages to us of joining the Schengen agreement. ”

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/130422-gc0001.htm

    Likewise, it was also the unelected chamber the one that back in 1999 – must have been before OBCD became severely endemic – formally recommended joining Schengen:

    “We believe that in the three major areas of Schengen—border controls, police co-operation (SIS) and visa/asylum/immigration policy—there is a strong case, in the interests of the United Kingdom and its people, for full United Kingdom participation.”

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199899/ldselect/ldeucom/37/3705.htm

So, what do you think ?