Schengen? It’s a small village in Luxembourg where the Agreement was signed.
Set up – 1985. Signing of the Convention – 1990. Implementation – 1995.
First members – France, West Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Current EU members – Austria – Belgium – Czech Republic – Denmark – Estonia – Finland – France – Germany – Greece – Hungary – Italy – Latvia – Lithuania – Luxembourg – Malta – Netherlands – Poland – Portugal – Slovakia – Slovenia – Spain – Sweden.
Non EU members of Schengen Area – Switzerland – Norway – Lichtenstein – Iceland.
EU members outside of Schengen -Bulgaria – Croatia – Cyprus – Ireland – Romania – UK.
(Bulgaria and Romania have applied to join, Croatia and Cyprus are potential candidates, the UK and Ireland have opted out of membership).
Rationale. Only one visa is required for all 26 Schengen countries. Once inside the zone (with or without a visa) a person and vehicle can travel through all the countries without being required to show identification when crossing borders.
Journeys per year inside zone – The EU estimates 1.25 billion.
Benefits – No queues for people and vehicles at border crossing. This reduces both waiting and transport costs. Reduced costs to central governments as they no longer need to patrol land borders.
Negatives – People concerned about national security argue that Schengen increases the dangers from terrorism, crime, and uncontrolled migration from outside of the zone.
Suspension – If there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security, a Schengen country may exceptionally reintroduce border control at its internal borders for, in principle, a limited period of no more than thirty days.