The Value of Open Borders

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Today I went on a short-term city trip to Luxembourg city, which is about 100 kilometers away from my home. I can go there for free by bus as a student of the Universität des Saarlandes. While I was there I stumbled upon a small demonstration. It was a demonstration for the EU and against Brexit.
However I won’t talk about Brexit here. There are enough people already talking about it, without Brexit happening. And that has basically been the status for three years.
But there was something one speaker today at the demonstration said, which touched me. I don’t recall his exact words, but he was from the UK and he said something about, that he was sad, that his children might not be able anymore to travel Europe freely.
This was something, that really resonated with me and made me think about open borders.

Open Borders Aren’t the Status Quo

Travelling a lot the last twelve months, I can’t say you right away how often I crossed a border. As France was under an hour away by foot from my old apartment, I went there a lot. And I made some further travels into France, Luxembourg and Belgium. And there are still a lot of cities in Europe I wanna see someday… A lot of countries I haven’t visited yet.
That we as EU citizens can travel this whole area freely and savely is really something amazing. It’s a freedom most people in human history never had.
And I think it’s something a lot of people don’t value enough, because they just don’t know it any other way.

A picture of a monument in Brussels, where two gears touch each other. In the background there are rainbow colors painted on he ground.
A picture I took last year in Brussels at the Schuman roundabout

For people in other parts of the world it isn’t even normal to be able to travel their own country. Either because it isn’t allowed by the government or because it just isn’t save to do so.
And it’s not that long ago, that my home country, Germany, was split in half and you couldn’t just travel from the one half to the other. Kind of a strange thought today…
And it’s somewhat fitting that I will be in Berlin, which was divided itself, next weekend, I think.

What About…

The downsides?

One argument I heard a lot against open borders is, that multi-national companies are abusing them. But let me tell you something… For those big companies the borders will still remain mostly free, if we shut them down for normal people. They have enough resources to make their own rules.
And it’s kind of romantic to think, that just because you end some treaties demand for certain goods will end as well. Ever heard about Cuban cigars?

And on the other hand I also don’t think, that just rich, privileged people profit from open borders. Heck… I once did a 4 days trip to Ljubljana, which costed me not more than 150 euros in total (the trip, accommodation and food all included). My trip to Strasbourg last year might have been even cheaper.

So what am I actually trying to say with my post? Maybe it’s just for the selfish reason that I like to travel, but I really don’t want to go back to a time without open borders in Europe.

Do you?

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