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Cross-border commuters and trips: the relevance of Schengen

Almost 1.7 million Schengen residents were cross-border commuters in 2014.
These charts show data on commuting in the Schengen area and intra-EU tri

Publishing date
03 December 2015

Many workers rely on the Schengen agreement that allows them to cross the border without any ID controls. Almost 1.7 million residents from Schengen countries crossed the border to go to work in 2014. As can be seen in the chart below, 0.93% of the employed citizens living in Schengen countries work across the border. The share of cross-border commuters is particularly high in Slovakia (5.7%), Estonia (3.5%), Hungary (2.4%) and Belgium (2.3%).

NB_GW_031215_11

Source: Eurostat

Please note that these figures represent the share of a country's employed residents who commute out of the country to go to work.

The Schengen agreement’s relevance stretches beyond cross-border commuting to work. In 2013, EU-28 citizens made over 218 million trips of one night and over to other EU-28 countries, almost 25 million (11%) of those were for business purposes.

NB_GW_031215_2

Source: Eurostat

Overall, the numbers show that many people benefit from the Schengen agreement – they would notice its abolition in their daily lives. What makes the debate on Schengen so relevant are not the direct macroeconomic implications of its possible abolition, it’s the visible and powerful symbol of European integration that Schengen represents and the potential further consequences in terms of labour mobility.

About the authors

  • Guntram B. Wolff

    Guntram Wolff was the Director of Bruegel. Over his career, he has contributed to research on European political economy and governance, fiscal, monetary and financial policy, climate change and geoeconomics. Under his leadership, Bruegel has been regularly ranked among the top global think tanks and has grown in influence and impact with a team of now almost 40 recognized scholars and around 65 total staff. Bruegel is also recognized for its outstanding transparency.

    A recognized thought leader and academic, he regularly testifies at the European Finance Ministers' ECOFIN meeting, the European Parliament, the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the French Parliament (Assemblée Nationale). From 2012-16, he was a member of the French prime minister's Conseil d'Analyse Economique. In 2018, then IMF managing director Christine Lagarde appointed him to the external advisory group on surveillance to review the Fund’s priorities. In 2021, he was appointed to the G20 high level independent panel on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. He is also a professor (part-time) at the Solvay Brussels School of Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he teaches economics of European integration.

    He joined Bruegel from the European Commission, where he worked on the macroeconomics of the euro area and the reform of euro area governance. Prior to joining the Commission, he was coordinating the research team on fiscal policy at Deutsche Bundesbank. He also worked as an external adviser to the International Monetary Fund.

    He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Bonn and studied in Bonn, Toulouse, Pittsburgh and Passau. He taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh and at Université libre de Bruxelles. He has published numerous papers in leading academic journals. His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media and policy outlets. Guntram is fluent in German, English, French and has good notions of Bulgarian and Spanish.

  • Nuria Boot

    Nuria, a Dutch, Spanish and American citizen, worked as a Research Assistant in the area of Competition Policy. Before joining Bruegel, Nuria worked as a trainee on the Chief Economist Team at DG Competition, European Commission. At the CET she worked on the quantitative analysis of a merger case and on a state aid project.

    She studied Econometrics and Economics, specializing in Industrial Organization, at the University of Amsterdam. In her master thesis she studied the profitability of a cartel in interbank rate mechanisms, such as Euribor and Libor. Her bachelor thesis was on entry deterrence and mergers after patent expiration.

    Nuria’s research interests include competition policy, (empirical) industrial organization, regulation and innovation.

    She is fluent in Dutch, Catalan, Spanish and English.

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