THE issues surrounding border controls in a united Europe are not new, they have been going on for years. Recent expansions of the European Union have rekindled these arguments in recent times. But now it would be safe to say it has become one of the hot-button items – just as Europe is faced with the biggest challenges to unity it has seen in decades.
The acceptance of refugees from Syria, amid very real threats from some groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda who are actively wreaking acts of terror on Europe’s streets – has heightened fears, and rightly so.
Open borders within Europe means countries are only as strong as the weakest border defence.
The desperate plight of the refugees willing to risk their lives in dangerous crossings, often after giving their life savings to criminals, is also dominating headlines as tens of thousands head for the shores of Europe.
And now the Chief Constable of Scotland, Sir Stephen House, has revealed another consequence of freer travel. He did so when facing questions by the Scottish Police Authority at a public board meeting in Glasgow about the high rate of housebreaking and car thefts in Scotland.
Presumably in order to prevent fear and alarm, Sir Stephen replaced the word “gangs” with the word “groupings”, then went on to say that eastern European groupings are involved in a number of crimes and combatting that was complicated because “identities are not always certain, and they can go back and forwards out of the country”.
He said that an added complication is that foreign nationals may exit the country for a few months while the police pursuit gets a bit hot and then come back later on.
If identities are uncertain and travel is easy, it is to be assumed that no documents are needed for travel and that therefore this is only possible within current European rules.
So it is easy to see why there is growing pressure for greater border control between Britain and the rest of Europe, and no doubt much will be made of this in the run-up to the European referendum, but it is misguided.
The benefits of the easy passage of goods and labour far outweigh the drawbacks. In the same way that criminals move around Britain in the execution of their nefarious activities and no-one uses this as a reason for the break-up of the United Kingdom, it should not be part of the argument over Europe.
What is needed is far more joined-up action from police forces and other agencies. Usually the barriers in the way of that are those of communication, and it is only if Europe is united that the conditions for that will be in place.
Back unique Italian-Scottish fusion cuisine
Scotland is home to some of the best and most iconic foods in the world – think Aberdeen Angus beef, smoked salmon, Arbroath smokies and Stornoway black pudding. Food is often one of the items that defines a country’s culture, because it can stay very local. Consumption passes down from generation to generation and items like pies, bridies and Irn-Bru come to represent our distinctiveness and are celebrated as such. And here we are, in 2015, in the Scottish Government’s year of food.
OK, there are some famous examples you wouldn’t want to celebrate, like the deep-fried Mars Bar and the deep fried pizza, but Tunnock’s tea cakes have become such a part of the fabric of the nation we chose to feature them in the ceremony to open the 2014 Commonwealth Games, no doubt to the puzzlement of the rest of the Commonwealth.
And now Greggs have taken the macaroni pie, an unlikely sounding concoction of Italian and Scottish cuisines, off their menu sparking a petition for its return.
It should be clearly stated here that this is no deep-fried Mars Bar. The macaroni pie in fact offers a lower-calorie alternative to its meat versions as well as being a savoury morsel for vegetarians.
Perhaps some of the dismay around its departure from Greggs is the fact it is being replaced by such things as a Mediterranean pork roll and green Thai chicken lattice. It seems the grander something sounds the more we like it.
Perhaps if the macaroni pie was re-branded as fusion cuisine it might stand a chance of getting back on the menu.