'Dropping Schengen won't stop terrorism'

Border-free zone strained amid terror attacks, refugee crisis

(by Stefania Fumo).
    (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Friday reiterated his belief that dropping the Schengen Agreement scrapping border controls between most EU countries will not disarm the threat of Islamist terrorism. "Schengen has been thrown very much into doubt and that is very sad for us," Renzi told RTL radio. "Free circulation is a great European dream...you cannot stop the terrorists by suspending Schengen. Some of the terrorists of the (November 13) Paris attacks grew up in our cities. "There is fear and a lack of vision in the closure of Schengen, which threatens the European project," he said. The Schengen system has been curtailed to some degree in recent months, as seen with Sweden restoring checks on its border with Denmark in response to the refugee crisis. Former president and life Senator Giorgio Napolitano echoed the premier's words.
    "We must pursue a tight-knit understanding between the leaderships of the major countries (in order to) combine reception with security, rather than setting them against each other," he told the Senate on Friday. "(We must do so) without undermining the fundamental structure of Schengen". EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said suspending Schengen would cost the Union a "striking" amount of money at a time when a fledgling economic recovery is struggling for takeoff, and European Parliament President Martin Schulz said such a move would be "catastrophic" for the EU.
    "It seems to me that many of those who have aired closing the borders in recent days - de facto sounding the death knell of Schengen - can't or don't want to imagine the catastrophic effects it would have," told German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse in an interview.
    Ending Schengen would bring about "enormous economic damage" and represent a "threat to growth and jobs", he said. Also on Friday, Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan voiced support for a "European Marshall Plan" to tackle the refugee crisis via economic aid in the asylum seekers' home countries. Padoan said the plan, originally suggested by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble Thursday, was in the right "spirit". "Italy is certainly in favour of a European strategy, without forgetting that Schengen is fundamental in all this," he said. The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American program to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II, in which the United States gave $13 billion (approximately $130 billion in current dollar value as of August 2015) in economic aid.