Eureka: The Schengen area

Hi and welcome to Eureka! It’s the end of border checks and queues. They’ve almost all disappeared within the EU. Today, we can travel almost anywhere in the EU without a passport, thanks to Schengen, which has played a big part in the building of the EU. In 1985, five European countries board the same boat. Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands decide to create a border-free zone. They sign the agreement in Schengen, a small town in Luxembourg. The aim is to allow people to move freely from one country to the next. The land border checks begin to be relaxed. The Schengen agreement is named after the town, where it was signed. Original! The name was then given to a large area with no borders. From 1990, other countries jump on the bandwagon, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. In the mid-90s, 13 countries are part of the Schengen agreement. Checks are scrapped at internal borders and tightened at external borders. In 1995, border checks disappear completely in the Schengen area. On the roads, the customs offices lie empty and look like museums. After that, controls at ports and airports are closed. We are free to travel between countries but are not completely without restriction. The Schengen states want to ensure the security of their shared area. Their police, customs and legal systems join forces. Together, they carry out random checks in their countries, in the air, out at sea and on land. Specialised teams can intervene at any given moment. And checks are made tighter at external borders. The aim is to combat crime and illegal immigration. To enter the Schengen area, foreigners must have a visa. As of 2007, the Schengen area grows and includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Malta. Three non-EU countries also join them, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus will complete the picture in 2012, provided they can control their external borders. So, the majority of EU Member States will be part of the Schengen area, but not all. There are some who prefer to control their own borders, Ireland and the UK. Did you get all that? Bye! EuroparlTV video ID: 788512e5-2fdd-4fc3-a104-a07c011d63d8