Cover: A Research Paper on the Costs of Non-Schengen from a Civil Liberties and Home Affairs Perspective

A Research Paper on the Costs of Non-Schengen from a Civil Liberties and Home Affairs Perspective

Published in: The Cost of Non-Schengen: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Aspects: Cost of Non-Europe Report / Wouter van Ballegooij (Brussels: European Union, 2016), p. 36-146

Posted on Oct 12, 2016

by Marco Hafner, Jirka Taylor, Martin Stepanek, Sarah Grand-Clement, Martin Sacher, Elma Dujso, Matteo Barberi, Stijn Hoorens

Research Questions

  1. What are the economic, social and political costs of the re-introduction of border controls in the area of justice and home affairs?
  2. What are the budgetary costs of re-allocating public sources towards border control?
  3. What are the empirical associations between Schengen, crime and security?
  4. What is the empirical association between Schengen and various modalities and levels of trust?
  5. Would potential benefits result from a more concerted effort at the EU level within the current Schengen governance framework, or by external factors?

Amid the recent and unprecedented influx of migrants into the European Union, the functioning of Schengen has been placed under considerable strain, with several member states re-introducing temporary controls on parts of their internal borders. Recent evidence suggests that suspensions of Schengen are associated with economic costs related to trade barriers and traffic delays at border crossing points, among others things. Against this background, the European Parliament commissioned RAND Europe to investigate the economic, social and political costs of non-Schengen, with a particular emphasis on civil liberties and home affairs. This study aims to contribute to discussions about Schengen's sustainability in the light of the migration crisis by identifying the costs of re-introducing border controls between Schengen member states, and by identifying the potential benefits of more concerted action at EU level compared to the lack of such action, or to action by member states on their own. The remit of this study includes both economic costs (such as re-introducing internal border controls) along with wider social and political costs (such as crime, and measures of security and trust). The focus on the latter types of cost reflects the fact that, as well as its economic benefits, Schengen has also been a building block of the EU's Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, and as such has an importance beyond the purely economic.

Key Findings

  • Re-establishing border controls in Europe would cost around €2 billion to €3 billion in annual operating costs. There would also be fixed one-off costs of anywhere between 0.1 billion and €19 billion, which is dependent on the timeframe for establishing border controls e.g. the permanent establishment of border controls would result in a higher one-off cost.
  • Following the Schengen enlargement in 2007, there has been a decrease in levels of crime within the Schengen Area, such as burglary, car theft, theft and robberies. There was a particularly strong association between the 2007 enlargement and the volume of seized drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, within the Schengen Area.
  • There has been an upward trend in European citizens' trust in national and European institutions following the Schengen enlargement in 2007. Trust is seen as an important factor in making the Schengen Agreement work for countries in the area.


  • Reform of the EU asylum system could enable the more effective identification of genuine refugees.
  • Cooperation with countries whose borders are the external borders of the Schengen Area should be strengthened.
  • The EU should adopt more effective external border checks through initiatives such as systematic checks on EU nationals and the establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
  • The EU should seek improvements in information collection and sharing across agencies and member states to support existing police and judicial cooperation arrangements.

Research conducted by

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