After Berlin attack, Europe weighs freedom against security

PARIS — Open borders symbolize liberty and forward thinking for many Europeans — but they increasingly look like the continent’s Achilles’ heel.

Europe’s No. 1 terrorism suspect crossed at least two borders this week despite an international manhunt, and he was felled only by chance, in a random ID check in a Milan suburb. The bungled chase for Berlin market attack suspect Anis Amri is just one example of recent cross-border security failures that are emboldening nationalists fed up with European unity. Extremist violence, they argue, is too high a price to pay for the freedom to travel easily.

Defenders of the EU’s border-free zone say the security failures show the need for more cooperation among European governments, even shared militaries — not new barriers. Hidebound habits of hoarding intelligence within centuries-old borders are part of the problem, they contend.

But their arguments are criticized by the likes of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is hoping to win France’s presidency in May.

“The myth of total free movement in Europe, which my rivals are clinging to in this presidential election, should be definitively buried. Our security depends on it,” she said in a statement Friday, calling Europe’s free-travel zone a “total security catastrophe.”

That poses a dilemma for European Union devotees like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing a re-election battle next year.

Merkel’s defense

Article source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/after-berlin-attack-europe-weighs-freedom-against-security/2016/12/24/ebe248da-ca38-11e6-acda-59924caa2450_story.html

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