Cars parking and waiting at a closed Hungarian border crossing.

End to Schengen could mean a dramatic decline in growth for Europe

Exchange of goods, going on holiday or a year abroad - Schengen with its open borders makes that possible. Reintroducing internal border controls would not only mean new inconveniences for the Germans. Economic growth and wealth of all EU member states would be in danger.


Foto Thieß Petersen
Dr. Thieß Petersen
Senior Advisor

A permanent reinstatement of internal border controls would have a dramatic effect on economic growth throughout Europe, causing a noticeable decline in prosperity. For Germany alone, lower growth might be expected to produce cumulated losses of at least 77 billion euros between 2016 and 2025. In a more pessimistic scenario, losses could amount to as much as 235 billion euros. For the EU as a whole, they would be likely to reach 470 billion. If Schengen were to collapse, moreover, the negative economic effects would be felt even outside of Europe. These are the findings of a recent study conducted by Prognos AG on behalf of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Reinstating border controls would result in higher costs and prices

Reinstating border checks would result in higher costs and prices, which would have a negative impact on Europe's economic growth. Even in an optimistic scenario, which assumes that the price of goods imported from other European countries would rise by only a moderate one percent, growth would decline substantially. Based on conservative assumptions, Germany's weaker growth would produce losses of up to 77 billion euros over the ten-year period from 2016 to 2025. France's cumulative losses would amount to 80.5 billion euros. Over ten years, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Europe as a whole would drop by some 470 billion euros. A more pessimistic scenario assumes that the price of imports would increase by three percent. Cumulated GDP losses would then total 235 billion euros in Germany, 244 billion euros in France and 1.4 trillion euros in the EU.

"If Europe's internal barriers go back up, it will put even more pressure on growth – which is already weak. Ultimately, it is the people who will pay."

Aart De Geus, Chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

To arrive at these figures, the study looked at the time that would be needed to check passports at Europe’s internal borders. Longer waiting times mean higher labor costs for companies. Companies would also have to increase their stock on hand, since just-in-time deliveries could no longer be guaranteed. Both of these factors would result in higher production costs and, in turn, higher prices. When prices go up, consumer demand goes down and companies become less competitive in the international markets, which also reduces exports. Lower demand for goods ultimately leads to a drop in investments. When sales opportunities decline, companies adapt by cutting production. The result is less economic grow

A suspension of Schengen would also affect the USA and China

In an increasingly interdependent world, these effects would lead to lower economic growth in non-European countries as well. If the price of imports were to rise by one percent, declining growth in the United States and China would produce losses of 91 and 95 billion euros, respectively, between 2016 and 2025. Assuming an increase of three percent, the cumulative losses in both countries would amount to approximately 280 billion euros.

Please find the complete study with results for all EU member states here: