Schengen area

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The zone of free movement of people consisting of (by 2008) 22 of the 27 European Union (EU) member states, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. The area was constructed following a series of discussions and negotiations beginning at Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985 by those European Community (EC) member states seeking the extension of the Single European Market to the free movement of people. Agreements were reached by the Schengen countries, outside the EC/EU framework, on the removal of all internal border controls, police and judicial cooperation, and common policies on external borders, visa arrangements for third‐country nationals, asylum, and illegal immigration. After several delays, the area came into effect in 1994. The Schengen countries also agreed to the creation of a European Police Force (Europol), a European Drugs Unit (EDU), and common databanks for surveillance of criminal activity and asylum applicants in the area. The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 incorporated the Schengen agreements into the Third Pillar of the European Union (Justice and Home Affairs), with many elements subsequently incorporated into the first (EC) pillar. Nonetheless, the term ‘Schengen’ continues to be widely used. Cooperation on Schengen matters has been considerably reinforced over the past decade through the adoption of numerous laws and other measures. The United Kingdom and Ireland continue to exercise their right to opt out established in the Maastricht Treaty, while Cyprus, Romania, and Bulgaria have yet to participate in the free movement zone.


Subjects: Politics.

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