Schengen Area

The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders. It functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. The Area is named after the town of Schengen in Luxembourg where the Schengen Agreement, which led to the Area's creation, was signed. Joining Schengen entails eliminating internal border controls with the other Schengen members, while simultaneously strengthening external border controls with non-Schengen states.

Twenty-two of the European Union (EU) member states and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states participate in the Schengen Area. Of the five EU members that do not form part of the Schengen Area, three – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania – are legally obliged to join the area, while the other two – Ireland and the United Kingdom – maintain opt-outs. Four non-members of the EU, but members of EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – participate in the Schengen Area while three European microstates – Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican – can be considered as de facto parts of the Schengen Area as they do not have border controls with the Schengen countries that surround them. The area currently covers a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres (1,664,911 sq mi).

The Schengen Area was established outside of the then European Community, when consensus could not be reached among all of its member states on the abolition of border controls. However as more EU member states signed up to join the Schengen Area, agreement was reached on absorbing it into the EU, which was done by the Amsterdam Treaty in 1999.

Read more about Schengen Area:  History, Membership, Prospective Members, Territories of Schengen States Outside The Area, EU Member States With Opt-outs, Status of The European Microstates, Regulation of Internal Borders, Regulation of External Borders, Police and Judicial Co-operation, See Also

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... solution for the new EU Member States in joining the Schengen Area, featured high on the agenda ... As Minister Mate said, Slovenia’s access to the Schengen database depends on the opinion of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, which will decide on eventual implementation of the system SIS I+ at its ... adequate« replied Minister Liese Prokop when asked when we can expect entry into the Schengen area without internal borders.” “Before the informal meeting of the JHA Council, in Tampere (Finlan ...

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