Europeans can have no expectation that customs checks are distinct from border checks – according to the Commission
Back on 30th June I was subjected to a non-Schengen compliant border control at Buchs in Switzerland. The full report from the border, including a transcript, can be found here. The essence of the message given by the police officer checking me was that as he was from the cantonal police, and not the border force, what he was demanding – my passport, and not even asking about my luggage (that a customs check ought to entail) – was fine because this could not be a border control as it was not carried out by the border force.
I made a complaint to the European Commission about this, stating that the type of check – demanding only passports, and those from all passengers in the train on which I was travelling – was akin to a border control. The letter from the Commission, replying to my complaint, arrived today. You can read the whole redacted letter here.
In this letter, just as in all of my previous complaints, the Commission rejects the complaint, although this time their justification is absurd. This is the relevant paragraph:
So, in other words, a citizen crossing the border into Switzerland (or, I presume anywhere else for that matter) can have no expectation that customs checks are carried out in a manner that is distinct from border controls. This strikes me as an absurd and lax line of argument!
The penultimate paragraph is also interesting – the Commission acknowledges that there has been a problem with some connections into Switzerland, but has been reassured by the Swiss government about the nature of the checks. Hey, Commission, perhaps if you actually took more eyewitness reports into account you would see that what is actually happening on the ground is not what your nice friends in the Swiss government are telling you is happening.
I’m coming to the conclusion now that I have amassed enough evidence about Schengen breaches, and each of these complaints has just been brushed off by the Commission, to actually take the issue to the Ombudsman, making a case of maladministration by the Commission for not investigating these complaints adequately.Jon