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Schengen area

The Schengen area and cooperation are founded on the Schengen Agreement of 1985.

The Schengen area represents a territory where the free movement of persons is guaranteed. The signatory states to the agreement have abolished all internal borders in lieu of a single external border.

Members of Schengen area

The Schengen Area currently consists of 26 states, including 4 which are not members of the European Union

Two EU members – Ireland and the United Kingdom – have negotiated opt-outs from Schengen and continue to operate the Common Travel Area systematic border controls with other EU member states.

The following states are memers of Schengen area



*)Czech Republic

*)Denmark (excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands)



*)France (excluding overseas departments and territories)




















Prospective members

While Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, is legally bound to join the Schengen Area, implementation has been delayed because of the Cyprus dispute. As of March 2011 no date has been fixed for implementation of the Schengen rules by Cyprus.

Bulgaria's and Romania's bids to join the Schengen Area were approved by the European Parliament in June but rejected by the Council of Ministers in September 2011, with the Dutch and Finnish governments citing concerns about shortcomings in anti-corruption measures and in the fight against organised crime.

Romania will be joined to Schengen area no earlier than March 2013.

The participation of Ireland and the United Kingdom

In accordance with the protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam, Ireland and the United Kingdom can take part in some or all of the Schengen arrangements, if the Schengen Member States and the government representative of the country in question vote unanimously in favour within the Council.

In March 1999, the United Kingdom asked to cooperate in some aspects of Schengen, namely police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the fight against drugs. The Council Decision 2000/365/EC approving the request by the United Kingdom was adopted on 29 May 2000.

In June 2000, Ireland too asked to take part in some aspects of Schengen, roughly corresponding to the aspects covered by the United Kingdom’s request. The Council adopted the Decision 2002/192/EC approving Ireland’s request on 28 February 2002. The Commission had issued opinions on the two applications, stressing that the partial participation of these two Member States should not reduce the consistency of the acquis as a whole.

Relations with third countries: common principles

The gradual expansion of the Schengen area to include all EU Member States has led third countries that have particular relations with the EU to take part in Schengen cooperation. The precondition for association with the Schengen acquis by non-EU countries is an agreement on free movement of persons between those states and the EU (this is provided for by the Agreement on the European Economic Area in the cases of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein and by the Agreement on the free movement of persons in the case of Switzerland).

For these countries this participation involves:

*)being included in the area without checks at internal borders;

*)applying the provisions of the Schengen acquis and of all Schengen-relevant texts adopted pursuant to it;

*)being involved in decisions relating to Schengen-relevant texts.

In practice, this involvement takes the form of mixed committees that meet alongside the working parties of the EU Council. They comprise representatives of the Member States' governments, the Commission and the governments of third countries. Associated countries therefore participate in discussions on the development of the Schengen acquis,but do not take part in voting. Procedures for notifying and accepting future measures or acts have been laid down.

The Schengen Information System (SIS)

At the heart of the Schengen mechanism, an information system was set up. It allows national border control and judicial authorities to obtain information on persons or objects.

Member States supply information to the system through national networks (N-SIS) connected to a central system (C-SIS). This IT system is supplemented by a network known as SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entry), which is the human interface of the SIS.

This page was last modified on 20 November 2020 at 05:58.

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