Europe Divided - Then and Now

CímEurope Divided - Then and Now
Közlemény típusaRiport / Report
Év / Year2009
SzerzőkWasilewska, Olga, Juraj Buzalka, Dóczi Zoltán, Horbowski Tomasz, and Michal Thim
InstitutionStefan Batory Foundation
Város / CityWarsaw

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia acceded to the Schengen Agreement in December 2007. The closing of the border-crossing points involved provoked many to point out the exceptional significance of this event. Some saw in this one of the last stages in the healing of divisions in Europe. In practice, inhabitants of the CEE countries can now travel with ease the likes of which they had never known before; they are enjoying opportunities that many of them could not even have dreamed of.

One can assume that inhabitants of the Visegrad countries will soon take the lack of checks and clearances at the EU internal borders for granted. Similarly, the majority of them got used to the facilities introduced earlier very quickly. First, they did not need visas for West European countries. Next, they could go there without a passport – with just an ID. And now, there are no borders to speak of.

The opposite is true of those living in Eastern Europe though. Citizens of countries such as Belarus, Moldova, Russia, or Ukraine find visiting the EU, and especially Visegrad countries, increasingly more difficult. The enlargement of, first, the EU, and then, the Schengen Zone, involved the tightening of controls at the new EU external borders, and at the same time of the visa regime followed by the new EU Member States vis-à-vis their Eastern neighbours. The inhabitants of East European countries encounter more and more difficulties in this respect: higher costs of obtaining a visa, stricter requirements to be met, etc. For many of them, travel to the EU is beyond reach now.

Thus, this healing of divisions is not tantamount to the end of the division of Europe as such. Our publication shows that this division is both the problem of the past, and of the present. Therefore, the book is divided into two parts: “THEN” and “NOW”. Both of these parts deal with the problems encountered by Europeans in connection with travelling. The problem is discussed though within the context of two different periods and two separate geographical areas.