A thought about passport control

Last week I had quite the worst ever Schiphol passport experience of the last few years, the best part of an hour waiting in the EU Passports queue. It is pretty clear to me that no one gives a damn about which queue you are in at this airport. Having been traveling to Amsterdam for the last twenty or so years in the years since we’ve had dedicated EU entry queues I have never once seen a non-EU citizen getting to the border control officer in the wrong queue and being redirected to the correct one. In fact quite the opposite, on many occasions I have experienced the inevitable delay while they process the offending passport and delay everyone else. You end up playing a sort of ethnic-origin game and try to judge which queue looks like it has the least number of non-EU passport holders in it. It is yet another stress factor connected to travel. It made me think about this whole Schengen treaty thing and how it has effectively relegated non-Schengen country citizens to a kind of second class travel status.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but it seems that the only country that observes the rules in Europe, such as the blue EU customs channel where I understand they have to have a very good reason to stop you, is the UK. Pick anywhere else, France or Germany for example, and the channel does not exist. Pick another country, Italy or Poland, and it is always closed. There’s no logic to any of this. If you query this then there will inevitably be an observation that if the UK was a member of the Schengen treaty then this would not be an issue. But the point is that we are not a Schengen country, so why should we be treated with some kind of pariah nation status? The facts are that the UK stood by its principles and elected to stay out of Schengen in order to try and control a porous border problem that was (and many believe still is) rapidly getting out of control. In fact other countries in Europe are now regretting their decision to abolish this basic precaution that enables a state to maintain its sovereignty, namely the control over whoever enters the country. Unfortunately the price that the UK has to pay is delays getting in to just about anywhere in Europe.

As ever, anything to do with the EU and the unceasing push to standardise and harmonise is really all about bringing everybody down to the lowest common denominator. Plus it gives everyone else the vicarious pleasure of making life hard for the British.

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