Companies must prepare workers for a transforming European Schengen Area
Employees on assignment in the European Schengen Area may need to get used to the reimposition of border controls, and the possibility of having to carry much more documentation, when traveling from one European country to another.
Considering Europe is rife with history and major travel destinations, companies are usually able to identify individuals open to relocating to the continent with relative ease. The Schengen Agreement, signed in the mid-1990s by 26 countries that comprise most of the European Union, makes it easy to travel from one country to another within what is now known as the Schengen Area. As a result, those who agree to relocate to one European nation generally gain convenient access to dozens of other countries without the need for a passport – this is a major perk for travel lovers who get a chance to work abroad.
The openness of the Schengen Area has become viewed as a vulnerability, however, in the wake of the 2015 European migrant crisis. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from across the Mediterranean Sea have made their way into the Schengen Area in search of safely and political asylum, and this international migration ramped up in 2015, prompting members of the EU to consider new border control options.
This crisis has become a problem that, as a recent Control Risks YouTube video put it, is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It dominates the news cycle, but tends to directly affect out-of-range areas such as train tracks, border posts and faraway islands, the clip states.
As a result of the crisis, many member nations of the Schengen Area have taken drastic measures to limit movement across the political zone’s internal borders as a means of preventing the migrant crisis from spreading all over Europe. Corporations interested in mobilizing members of their workforce for overseas assignments across the Atlantic can quell concerns regarding uncertainty by educating employees on the changes going on overseas and how they will impact their experience while working abroad.
The European migrant crisis continues unabated
Despite attempts by members of the EU to resolve the migrant crisis, tensions have only worsened in the region. The current debate positions member nations on the border of the Schengen Areas against more centrally located nations, with border states arguing that current policies directed at addressing the flow of immigrants places an unfair burden on those states where immigrants are most likely to cross into the region.
This political dispute is typified by the ongoing disagreement between Greece and much of the rest of the EU.
According to The Irish Times, Greece recently expressed its resistance to an EU approved plan to increase security along the Macedonian border. Greek heads of state countered the announcement of the plan by arguing that Athens was not included in the planning phases of this strategy. Greece also argued that erecting a larger fence around the Schengen Area will only worsen the crisis.
The EU responded to Greece’s statement by referring to a European Commission report that charged the border nation with gross negligence in how officials have handled incoming immigrants. According to the BBC, EU investigators discovered evidence that Greek border control agents repeatedly failed to register new arrivals according to Schengen Area policies, skipped Interpol and background checks and were negligent in securing fingerprints and paperwork. Further complicating matters is evidence that one of the perpetrators of the Paris terrorist attacks entered the region through Greece, Control Risks reports.
While safety is a top concern for all Europeans, the stability of the continent’s economy is also at risk with some of the world’s largest and influential nations in a state of political limbo. The migrant crisis and its detrimental effects on the Schengen Agreement could cause long-term damage to the EU’s business environment, according to Control Risks. With so much in the air right now, it’s not surprising that some employees may feel underprepared for working abroad in Europe for 2016. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take.
“Prompting members of the EU to consider new border control options.”
Extra training and education will serve employees well overseas
Despite the fact that much of Europe is currently experiencing a bit of turmoil, employees will feel more confident about heading across the Atlantic if employers provide sufficient resources to help them along the way.
Michael Schell, CEO of international consulting firm RW3 CultureWizard, emphasized the importance of proper training for mobile talent in a recent interview with Human Resource Executive Online.
“International competencies are required by everyone in today’s workforce, whether or not you travel internationally,” said Schell. “Cultural training is a complex process. People think that certain business practices and behaviors are universal and they’re not.”
Language and cultural education are a huge advantage for workers being relocated overseas. Communication is vital at the workplace and even more so during a potential crisis. Navigational skill workshops and geographic resources are also worth the investment, as employees will feel more comfortable in a new place if they have an idea of how to get around. The more effort that employees put into this transition, the more likely employees will find success in their new role overseas.