Schengen Treaty

In 1985, Germany, France and the Benelux countries signed an agreement on closer co-operation to make cross-border travel easier. The aim was to establish a common travel area without internal borders and with common external borders.
Schengen countries normally do not require citizens to show their passports when crossing frontiers between one Schengen country and another.

Most EU states are now involved, and the “Schengen Acquis” was turned into binding EU law in the 1998 Treaty of Amsterdam. Ireland and UK are still outside Schengen and have opt-outs (derogations) in the treaties. This is because the UK is unwilling to have a common travel area with the continental EU countries, and Ireland wishes to maintain its common travel area with the UK.

Denmark joined Schengen in 1997 but has an opt-out (derogation) covering Justice and Home Affairs when measures under this heading are adopted on a supra-national basis.


The future

Switzerland is expected to join the Schengen zone in late 2006 or early 2007


See also Pillars and Justice and Home Affairs.