The Smart Traveler: Look for Europe Border Changes

With the rise of so much terrorism worldwide, and no way to stop it any time soon, the European Union is considering bringing back passport controlled borders. Depending on the tourist’s country of origin, in some cases, that might also include a needing visa. In some cases, it might just mean a photo ID.

The Syrian refugee crisis has unfortunately also yielded the ability for would-be terrorists to cross the border undetected. Europe became essentially border-free after the creation of the European Union, where this kind of easy access was considered a boon to trade and tourism.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union in the late 80 s and early 90’s, even more open borders arose that resulted in agreements between the countries to allow free and unfettered access. Yet a tourist will feel there is inconsistency, since some countries became part of the European Union, and some did not. The agreement for free movement across European borders is the Schengen Agreement. While traveling between former East Block countries in the former Yugoslavia for instance, a tourist will notice they need to show passports at the border in some countries, while in others they do not. This is because they are travelling in between Schengen countries.

Prior to the creation of the EU, train and plane travelers had to show their passports when they reached the border. Border guards would literally inspect passports on the train at border stops. After the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, the issue of porous borders loomed large. The United States realized they needed to have stronger controls on their borders for foreigners entering the country as an anti-terrorist measure .Europe did not do anything to tighten border security at that time.

Denmark and Sweden have long enjoyed a close relationship that had not included any form of identification to cross the borders of those countries in over 50 years. The Guardian recently reported that this has now changed, where photo IDs are now required for the first time in half a century. Citizens of those countries who cross the borders routinely feel their movements have been restricted according to the article. The majority of tourists however, will at most be mildly inconvenienced by this as well as other proposals for tighter border security between Western European countries.


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