Tuesday 29 July 2008

Open Borders

For many years, one of the sillier accusations thrown at Plaid by the London parties was that Independence would mean a string of border posts along Offa's Dyke. It was intended to make the idea of Independence look silly of course, but it was never something which Plaid advocated (although I did once suggest - jokingly - that if it was associated with a string of duty-free shops starting at the Severn Bridge services, it might even be quite a popular policy).

We have, on the contrary, always supported the concept of open borders within these islands, and my inclination would also be to support the Schengen Agreement, which has led to 15 members of the European Union abandoning border controls altogether between their countries. Border posts between the Schengen countries either stand disused, or, in many cases, have already been pulled down, and travel between the states concerned is now as easy as travel between counties in the UK – with just a sign marking the border.

The countries which signed up to Schengen have taken the view that it is more sensible and cost-effective to maintain a common external border, and to put their resources into controlling that, than to impose unnecessary border controls between each other. One of the main exceptions, of course, has been the UK, which has insisted on maintaining controls for people travelling to and from other EU states.

It was disappointing last week to see that, far from moving into line with the rest of the EU on this, the UK Government is actively seeking to introduce controls on movements between the UK and the Irish Republic; movements which have been uncontrolled for 80 years. I found myself wondering whether they would want to do the same for Wales and Scotland in the event of Independence.

There would be a rich degree of irony, given what London parties said about Plaid in the past, if a Welsh government signed up to Schengen and abolished border controls with most of the continent of Europe, but the Labour-Tory Little Englander separatists then insisted on creating border posts along Offa's Dyke.


Unknown said...

No doubt they would. I wouldn't put it past them. And why is it that the UK never signed up to the Schengen agreement?
This is blinkered insular mentality
from politicians with closed minds.
Let Wales throw open its borders to Europe and sign up to Schengen
forthwith. Surely Scotland too would jump at the chance!

Cibwr said...

Some years ago I got into a discussion on independence with a Labour hack, asked if I supported Schengen, I said yes... see he crowed triumphantly, you want to erect borders against the rest of the UK and isolate Wales from the world... with some you just can't win. Shades again of fog in the Channel, continent cut off....