The Schengen Convention 1995 abolishes the checks at internal
borders of signatory States and creates a single external frontier,
where checks for all the Schengen signatories are carried out in
accordance with a common set of rules.
Accordingly, this freedom of movement without being submitted to
checks at internal borders was accompanied by so-called
compensatory measures. These measures involve setting a common visa
regime, improving coordination between the police, customs and the
judiciary and taking additional steps to combat problems such as
terrorism and organised crime.
Be aware that under article 2.2 of the treaty, signatories may
reinstate border controls for a short period, if this is necessary
for national security reasons.
France did this around the 60th anniversary of D-Day in June
2004. Portugal reintroduced controls for the period of the 2004
European Football Championship, and Finland will do so for the 2005
World Athletics Championship in Helsinki in August 2005. France has
again re-imposed border controls in the wake of the bombings and
attempted bombings on London in July 2005.
In particular, the EU Member States applying the Schengenacquis,
as well as Norway and Iceland, issue 'uniform short-stay visas'
valid for travelling in the whole Schengen area.
The Schengenacquisis the set of rules adopted under the Schengen
Convention, which includes: the convention itself and the 1985
agreement; the accession protocols with Italy, Spain, Portugal,
Greece, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden; and the decisions and
declarations adopted by the Schengen bodies.
It is now part of the EU institutional and legal framework and
countries applying to join the EU will have to fulfil its
requirements. Amongst the key rules adopted by Schengen group
- removal of checks on persons at common EU internal
- common set of rules applying to people crossing EU external
frontiers, regardless of the EU country in which that external
frontier is situated;
- separation at air terminals and, where possible, at seaports of
people travelling within the Schengen area from those arriving from
countries outside the Schengen area;
- harmonisation of the rules regarding conditions of entry and
visas for short stays;
- coordination between administrations on surveillance of borders
(liaison officers, harmonisation of instructions and staff
- definition of the role of carriers in the fight against illegal
- enhanced police cooperation (including the rights of
cross-border surveillance and hot pursuit);
- strengthening of judicial cooperation through a faster
extradition system and transfer of the enforcement of criminal
- creation of the Schengen information system (SIS).
Ireland and the United Kingdom never signed up to the Schengen
Convention and have thus not ended border controls with other EU
Member States, although they will participate, in the future, in
those aspects of Schengen that entail cooperation between police
forces and the judiciary. For this reason, EU citizens, as well as
third-country nationals, still have to show their passports when
travelling between the UK or Ireland and the rest of the EU
(although not between Ireland and the UK, which together with the
Channel Islands and the Isle of Man constitute a common travel area
for which passports are not needed).
Although Denmark has signed the Schengen Agreement, it can
choose within the EU framework whether or not to apply any new
decision taken under the agreement.
Schengen Convention Signatories
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden
The 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004 have signed the
Convention applying the Schengen Agreement, and will fully
implement it in 2007. Cyprus, Czech Rep, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,
Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia
Non EU States
Iceland, Norway, Switzerland