What is the Schengen area?
The Schengen Agreement is an agreement between several countries in Europe for abolition of border control on internal borders and common visa system. It was signed on June 14 1985 on the board of river-boat „Princess Maria-Astrid“ in Schengen, Luxembourg between five of the ten member states of the European Community – Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and West Germany.
This is an area without control on the internal borders. At present in the Schengen area participate 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Finland, France, The Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden.
Some of them are not members of the European Union: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, but they have fully subscribed to the Schnegen acquis.
Two Member States of the EU - Ireland and the United Kingdom - have not lifted border controls with other UE Member States participating in Schengen but they have been authorised to take part in aspects of the Schengen acquis dealing with police cooperation including the Schengen Information System.
Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania have signed the Schengen agreement, but still have not fulfilled the procedures for its full implementation. The dates for entry into force of full implementation of the Schengen agreement differ for every country. Bulgaria has declared readiness for full implementation of the Schengen requirements from the beginning of 2011 onward.
Everyone has the right of free movement within the Schengen area. The purpose of the Schengen area is to provide for protection of the individuals and their property by decreasing the possibilities for abuse of this right. This includes enhanced and effective co-operation between police, customs, judicial and external border control authorities of all member states, which is necessary because of the abolition of internal borders.