The newest threat to the eurozone may be coming from the North.
This morning, Denmark reintroduced customs checkpoints on its borders with Germany and Sweden, in a move that threatens the integrity of passport-free travel within the EU.
The European Commission is up in arms over Denmark’s actions, saying that it will “take all necessary steps” to enforce EU law.
Since its adoption in 1995, the Schengen accord has allowed people and goods to move freely among most European countries. Proponents of the treaty tout its positive influence on trade:
According to FT columnist Andrew Hall: “Among the first beneficiaries of the lifting of continental European border controls in the early 1990s were trucking companies and their customers…The more clogged the frontier, the less profitable the cross-border traders.”
But the treaty has recently come under criticism, particularly in the wake of popular uprisings in Tunisia and Libya which have sent a stream of French-speaking migrants to Italy and France. These two countries angered Europe by temporarily suspending the Schengen treaty in May.
Denmark has increasingly been criticised for its “open and hostile atmosphere towards Muslim groups.” The Danish government says the new customs controls are really meant to prevent the entrance of organised crime gangs from eastern Europe, and not an influx of Muslim immigrants.
If the sovereign debt crisis doesn’t destroy the EU, maybe just plain old nationalism will.