Matthias Eckardt, Kalle Kappner, Nikolaus Wolf, 04 November 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the reintroduction of national border controls within Europe’s Schengen Area, but the effectiveness of this is disputed. This column uses regional data on confirmed new Covid-19 cases from the statistical agencies of 18 Western European countries to show that border controls helped to contain Covid-19, but only for regions with a substantial number of cross-border commuters prior to the crisis. Better policy coordination at the European level could have generated these benefits at lower economic (and political) cost.

Olivier Blanchard, Jacob Kirkegaard, 04 July 2018

Gabriel Felbermayr, Jasmin Gröschl, Thomas Steinwachs, 27 April 2016

The refugee crisis has placed Europe’s Schengen Agreement under stress, with some calling for the reintroduction of identity checks and other border controls. This column presents new estimates of the potential costs of such controls. On average, the removal of controls at one border acts like the removal of a 0.7% tariff. The controls currently notified to the EU Commission could lower EU GDP by around €12.5 billion. The full demise of Schengen would be about three times as costly.

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