It is, of course, true that the shorter the distance between borders and checkpoints, the harder it would become for people to carry weapons and explosives from one end of the continent to the other. But it is equally true that having border checks on every county boundary – or even every parish/community boundary – would provide even more security. Nobody – at least, as far as I’m aware – is proposing either of those suggestions; it is only ‘state’ boundaries which some would like to see closed.
And that tells us something about the mindset of those calling for reintroduction of stronger border controls across Europe. Whatever their motivation is, it really is not about finding the most effective way of controlling the movement of terrorists. Some European Union members have small land masses, but others are very much larger. Merely imposing controls on one arbitrarily selected set of lines on a map regardless of the size of the territories included within those lines doesn’t look like a targeted response to a problem. Controlling the movement of millions to try and identify the tens doesn’t look like a terribly efficient approach either, even assuming that it could actually succeed in identifying all the ‘targets’.
So what’s it really about? It looks like a knee-jerk reaction that ‘something must be done’ and the something that is proposed just happens to fit with the existing prejudices of those proposing it. The concept of ‘open internal borders’ is one of the achievements of the European project, although sadly the UK chose to opt out. Demands for the rest of Europe to follow the UK lead look more like an attempt to justify the UK’s stance than a rational response to a particular problem.
Open borders do not come without problems, of course. But a state the size of the US manages without any internal border controls – why should they be needed in Europe?