The younger ones among us do not even remember the times when border controls were common in the EU. Nowadays, if you travel by car from one EU country to another, it could easily happen that you do not realize you crossed a border. Before the Schengen Area was established, border checks meant long lines on borders and hours of waiting before reaching, for example, your holiday destination. The border-free Schengen Area is one of the biggest achievements of the European Union. It allows over 400 million European Citizens and many Non-EU nationals to travel and move freely within 26 countries without being stopped and checked on their internal borders. The Schengen Area, however, is not the only thing the EU does for traveling EU Citizens and tourists. Click here to learn more.
Most countries of the European Union are part of the Schengen Area except Ireland, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania. The last four are Schengen candidate countries and are obligated to join. Non-EU states have also joined the Schengen Area, namely Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. The Schengen countries agreed on a set of rules to secure the external borders together. These rules are, for example, about common control procedures, needed documents, and types of visa. They also established the Schengen Information System to enable the national police forces to work closer together.
The Schengen Area is named after a small village in Luxembourg called Schengen. It is located right where the borders of Germany, France, and Luxembourg meet. In 1985, five EU states signed the Schengen Agreement there to gradually abolish internal border control. In 1990 it was implemented and in 1995, border control was abolished between seven EU states. One by one the other EU and non-EU states joined to form the current Schengen Area. If you want to find out more about the Schengen Area, check out this brochure.
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Anonymous. Schengen Information System. Migration and Home Affairs – European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/schengen-information-system. Published December 6, 2016. Accessed May 3, 2019.
Schengen: enlargement of Europe’s border-free area | News | European Parliament. Schengen: enlargement of Europe’s border-free area | News | European Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/security/20180216STO98008/schengen-enlargement-of-europe-s-border-free-area. Published February 23, 2018. Accessed May 3, 2019.
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Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.
Supported by Xenia Sauer – Study Visitor in Communication at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and student in the Master program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a Bachelor degree in Sustainable Tourism and speaks German, English, Spanish and French.