As the level of globalization continues to increase, the number of people moving from one country to the other has drastically surged. According to McDonald (35), BA (UNE), Ph.D. (Sydney) and a senior lecturer at the University of New England,the movement is in search of jobs, medical care, and education among other noteworthy aspects of human life. One can state that in the developed economies, such as the European countries and the U.S., over half of the inter-country movement is in search of jobs, a situation that further constrains the social amenities of the hosting country. To facilitate the movement, different governments have signed agreements that ensure that citizens in these countries can live and work within the member countries. In developing countries, like those in Africa, Asian and Latin America continents, the formation of free trading zones have improved the status of these countries in the international levels. This paper will candidly evaluate whether increased integration between the concerned countries, as witnessed in the European Union through the Schengen Agreement, have led to raised levels of crime, unemployment and lower levels of wages.
It is important to evaluate the total coverage of the Schengen Agreement. According to Sieniow (12), Ph.D. (Catholic University of Lublin, 2003) and works for Central and the East European Law Initiative, the Schengen Agreement is an accord signed on June 1985 in the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, among five of ten member states, in the European Economic Community. In 1990, there convection complemented Schengen Agreement with the purpose of implementing the Schengen Agreement. Jointly, the two treaties led to the creation of borderless Schengen Area that operates like one state for the international travel. The movement is possible because of external border control, for those who travel in and out of Schengen region, though there are no any internal border controls. The Schengen Agreements together with the laws adopted, especially for the European Union members of the Schengen Agreement, fully separates from the EU structures. Originally, the Schengen Agreement was between countries, such as France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands. Later there was the extension of the agreement to cover most other European Union countries. For instance, Schengen Area consists of at least 25 counties from the European countries, which covers approximately 400 million people as well as an area of 1,666, 900 sq miles. Sieniow (30) argues that, the major objective of the Schengen Agreement is to increase free movement of persons from each of the member countries within the Schengen area without internal border controls, but only a main Schengen area control. Switzerland signed the Schengen agreement with the EU in 5 December 2008 after a Swiss voter exercise on 5 June 2005 passed by 54.6% a motion to sign the Schengen Agreement (European Commission, 2011). With an area that covers approximately 400 million people as well as an area of 1,666, 900 sq miles, one can categorically state that, the Agreement covers more than 80% of the European Union, thus having a higher level of impact in this region.
The number of immigrants to Switzerland may have drastically surged because of Schengen Agreement. McDonald (30) as of 2008, there was a 30.6 % share of the population with immigrant background, with the five main groups of immigrants accounting for 1.5 million people (European Scrutiny Committee 16). In 2009, there were 160,600 people moving into the country while 86,400 left. McDonald (4) argues that more than 22% of persons residing in Switzerland are foreigners and as of the year 2008, 30.6% of people in Switzerland had an immigrant background (either immigrants or as their descendants). The leading immigration groups into Switzerland are Germans, Italians, Albanians, Africans, Serbs and Croats, Kurds, Sri Lankans and Turks. Further, there were more than 43,000 immigrants in 2009, with the significant immigrant nationalities being Italians, Germans, Portuguese, French, Arabs Spanish and sub Saharan Africans (Stirk 10). Out of this, at least 1,715,000 foreigners registered as residents in 2009, of which 93% are permanent residents. The above figure excludes students, asylum seekers and seasonal workers. Approximately 354,000 of these have been born in Switzerland, and 522,000 resided in the country for more than 15 years, thus were eligible for citizenship by naturalization valid after 12 years of residing in the country (Swiss Federal Statistics Office, 2011). The above information it is clear that the Schengen Agreement has raised the number of immigrants into Switzerland by almost 85% in the last five years, thus the highest contributor of immigration to Switzerland.
The number of immigration to Switzerland may have also been attributable to the end of recession in the 1970s. Swiss Federal Statistics Office (1) from 1999, there was a significant effect of the Kosovo war in the migratory influx, further encouraged by the Swiss treaty with the EU free movement of workers in 2002. The upward trend continued between 2005 and 2009, fueled especially by the signing of the Schengen agreement by the Swiss government in 2008. The legal aspects of immigration are quite flexible, especially for persons from an EU country, requiring just an identification card from the parent country. Passports are not necessary. From the above information, it is clear that, the agreement has resulted to raised levels of immigration in Switzerland.
The immigrations from one region to the other in search of jobs may be attributable to the increased levels of crime in Switzerland. According to Stirk (33), Ph.D. (Exeter) a senior lecturer at the School of Government and International Affairs, Birmingham Polytechnic,the raised crime rate occurs when individuals fails to achieve their target, such as a meaningful employment, thus forcing them to crime as a way of survival. Since the initialization of the Schengen Agreement, crime in Switzerland has increased tremendously. Data from the Swiss Federal statistics Office has careful analysis of the trend of crime in the country especially between the years 2001 and 2009. Violent crime was remarkably rare in the country and there is evidence that most cases now reported of violence involve foreigners residing in Switzerland (Swiss Federal Statistics Office 18). Petty crime offences such as pick pocketing are on the rise especially in busy tourist areas and in late night trains. In 2009, police filed 553,421 criminal offences, which translate to 1516 daily offences. There were a total of 51 killings and 185 cases of attempted murder. Cases involving rape or attempted rape were 666. Of the 94,574 adults accused with criminal offences, only 47.4% of them were Swiss citizens, and of the 15,064 minors, 32% were non-Swiss nationals (Swiss Federal Statistics Office, 2011).Generally, crime in Switzerland is attributable to raised immigration out of the Schengen Agreement, as compared to others causes of crimes in the country.
The cases of narcotics in Switzerland may be on the raise because of Schengen Agreement. European Scrutiny Committee (14) the incidences are an indication that, the number of immigrant nationals involved in crime is raising. The number of persons convicted of criminal, narcotics or traffic offences has risen steadily from a total 46,437 in 1985 and 85,605 in 2005 to 94,574 in 2009. In 2009, the immigrants charged with offences, the nationalities with the largest crime rates were Angola (6.3), Nigeria (6.2), Algeria (6.0), Cote D’Ivoire (5.9) and Dominican Republic (5.8) (Swiss Federal statistical Office, 2010). It is clear that, the raised level of consumption of narcotics in Switzerland is because of the Schengen Agreement.
Unemployment may be another factor, which have been increased because of rapid immigration to Switzerland.European Scrutiny Committee (20) indicates that the huge influx of immigrants provide a source of cheap labor, thereby reducing the demand for workers, thus reducing the wages per hour of the regular average worker. In July 2001, the Swiss government entered into talks with the EU called Bilateral II, focused in customs fraud, environment, statistics, fraud, taxation, media, and Judicial cooperation which led, through a mass vote, to the signing of the Schengen agreement. Schengen agreement allowed free movement of cheap labor into the country. Adequate cheap labor from other EU members, notably Germany, Spain, Portugal and Yugoslavia has become available, prompting employers to replace their workforce with cheaper wage requirements. Unemployment has left the Swiss without adequate wages. According to an article in Swiss Info about 150,000 people are without jobs, representing a 3.8% of the population as an adjusted figure, which represents 3.7% increase in 2009. A report by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), labor reintegration has helped people obtain jobs, but lack of inadequate skills affects their pay, therefore these people still rely on public support. Immigrants can be able to work, and those naturalized seek unemployment claims if they lose their employment, thereby increasing the public support burden on the economy. In the recent weeks, some large Swiss companies have announced job cuts, including Roche, Novartis, UBS and Credit Suisse, with the strong Swiss franc reducing their profits. Generally, unemployment levels in Switzerland have risen because of the Schengen Agreement
As a result of the ease of availability of cheap labor and the subsequent hiring of foreign nationals by some of the companies in Switzerland, local labor force may be facing constrains in terms of employment opportunities and forced to accept low pay or quit employment. According to European Scrutiny Committee (21), which scrutinizes Europe Union legislations for the House of Commons,all workers of Swiss nationality or persons with valid work permits should have unemployment insurance, whereby they contribute a given percentage of their total pay to the insurance fund. The more Swiss nationals that lose their jobs the higher the unemployment claims, hence the more the burden on the public support system. Immigration is weakening Switzerland’s economy, since the claims of a single employee who is childless are on average 70% of their last six months average.
From the discussion above, it is clear that immigration into Switzerland may have had some significant effects on its culture, its economy and its employment. Stirk (28) it is noteworthy that Switzerland reconsiders its decision to commit to the Schengen agreement especially in matters concerning migration and employment access to foreign nationals. Several right wing populist movements have risen to oppose immigration since the 1970s, but failed due to their extremist nature. More recently in 2009, a vote enacted the minaret ban in opposition to growth of Islam in Switzerland. The government has also enacted tougher laws for deportation in response to the rising crime rates associated with immigrant communities. While EU regulations have their positive aspects in the whole of the EU block and the Schengen area, Switzerland now ought to assess the current and future implications of the Schengen agenda (Stirk 37).
The main areas of concern should be on its security as a state, its economic growth, employment prospects and the quality of life subjected to its people. It is clear that the total experience of the Schengen agreement is costing Switzerland most of its resources as compared to the overall benefits. Therefore, there is a need to amend the bilateral negotiations with EU, in order to think of the long-term effect of the EU policies on the Swiss people, otherwise the future of Switzerland is dark. There is the need to introduce and regulate travel and work permits as a way of managing the burden on the public fund currently faced, due to unemployment claims. Visa management systems need to be reintroduced and resident permits issuance monitored. Through the system, the lost glory of Switzerland as one of the safest places in the world, its placement among the most economically advanced nations, thus enhancement of the national satisfaction of its people (McDonald 10).
While the Schengen agreement has led to a more harmonized European Union and helped millions of Europeans to travel within the EU region with ease and convenience, it also has its negative effects such as crime, consumption of narcotics and unemployment. European Scrutiny Committee (14) greater mobility has led to easier access to work far from home for many Europeans; it has also led to better international relations and trade realizations for most member states. Though the economic, cultural and social bonds have been improving between members of the EU, the original economic, cultural and employment trends of Switzerland continues to deteriorate over the years, due to massive immigration (Sieniow 56). It is time Switzerland either called for fresh negotiations with the EU regarding its mandate in the Schengen agenda in a view to amend its responsibilities in favor of its survival and development as a nation, or for its complete withdrawal from the agreement altogether.