FECL 05 (April 1992):

AUSTRIA TO JOIN SCHENGEN II-TREATY BEFORE ACCEDING TO EC-MEMBERSHIP

The EC advocates the extension of its external border policies and in particular Schengen II to Austria as soon as is possible. Not long ago the Schengen states unambiguously excluded the possibility for non-EC states to join the treaty. Today, Brussels seems to have reversed its position: "We have another view of this. One simply has to make intergovernmental treaties. The discussions with the Viennese interior ministry on harmonization of criminal investigation, the combat against terrorism and drugs and the defence against abusive asylum applications have reached such a stage, that we can practise what is to come anyhow already before Austria's full membership."

In an interview with the Austrian daily "Der Standard", Reinhard Bscher, member of the cabinet of EC-vice-minister Martin Bangemann gave a plausible explanation for the Schengen countries sudden change of mind: "Just take a look at the map and you will see that, without an arrangement with Austria, Italy will de facto only be able to participate in the internal market by air and sea."

This astonishing case of creating far reaching political facts without any form of democratic consultation is being made palatable to the Austrian public by presenting a Schengen-membership as an uncomplicated way of making life easier for the "average citizen". Who could be opposed to crossing borders without identity or merchandise controls and without taking the risk of endless traffic jams on a vacation journey?

Nothing is said about the other implications of the Schengen agreement and the leader of the green party's parliamentary group, Madeleine Petrovic believes that all this was initiated in order to "anticipate a referendum which is assessed as problematic by the government" and she deplores that the parliament is never informed on the negotiations: "The level of information of the parliament amounts to what is said by the media".

N.B.

 

source: Der Standard, Vienna, 20.2.92