Border Controls (Sort Of)

On our recent (December) pet transport taking re-homed rescue cats and dogs to Germany, Belgium and the UK and personal pets to the UK we encountered a couple of the ‘much publicised’ Border Controls following the atrocious Paris terrorist attacks, and the general escalation of the terrorism threat across Europe, and the ongoing issues with migrants from Syria.

I am all in favour of stopping both the terrorists and the illegal migrants, but am not sure what the Border Controls that we encountered are hoping to achieve. If they are hoping to catch terrorists and/or illegal migrants I don’t see that happening, and if they think the very fact of imposing a Border Control imposes a threat that will stop movement then I very much doubt they will achieve that.

On the other hand if the plan was to inconvenience the general motorist and make them resent the fact that successive governments across the EU have failed to address either the terrorist or illegal migrant issue then bingo, they have succeeded!

First Border Control we encountered was leaving Spain and entering France. It is a long (10km) climb up the Pyrenees to the border, not ideal for lorries, so no real surprise that one over heated and blocked one of the two lanes being used by the lorries.

It took us an hour to do the 10km, and at the border we encountered a contra flow of plastic cones which divided the lorries and wagons from the other vehicles, which were then funnelled single file past a French Policeman armed with a torch which he randomly shone into vehicles.

I am no expert but I suspect that plastic cones and a torch are not a great threat or deterrent to said terrorists or illegal migrants?

Our second Border Control experience was between France and Germany, and again it was little more than a contra flow of plastic cones with a portacabin at the side of the road. They had positioned it so that they could direct cars into a parking area if required, so it wasn’t actually at the border at all, and it was unmanned.

Germany into Holland we were directed off the motorway, round a roundabout where three policemen with a portacabin watched us drive round the roundabout and back onto the motorway. Actually only one policeman watched us as the other two had their noses in the boot of a car they had stopped so were not exactly ready to spring into action.

What was also interesting at this control was that they had blocked off about 10km of the motorway either side of the check point, again with cones (not a stinger or any means of stopping a vehicle in site) so if someone did intend to make a dash for it they had 20km of open motorway to use with not one police vehicle positioned to give chase!

Entering Belgium I was expecting the tightest controls of all as only the week before much of the country had been on lock down but …… nothing, nada, zip! Ditto Belgium back into France, and no extra checks at Calais either.

In total we lost 2 hours to Border Controls, but I honestly can’t see how the ones we saw would be a deterrent or aid the capture of anyone intent on causing mischief!?

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