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EP: Schengen Agreement

Why aren't passports checked when travelling between certain European countries?

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news

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The European Union (EU) can seem pretty big and complicated. Not everyone is always aware of the impact the EU can have on our lives. European treaties, policies and agreements can seem distant and not very relevant to us, but in reality, they play a big part in the way society works in Europe, and how we live our lives. One important example of this is the Schengen Agreement.

What is the Schengen Agreement?

Have you ever travelled between certain European countries and noticed that your passport isn’t checked at the border or airport? Or ever been Inter-Railing across Europe and not have to show a passport when traveling from one country to the next?

This is because of the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Agreement allows people to travel freely between certain EU countries, without any border checks. This means that anyone that is currently in a country signed up to the Schengen Agreement, can travel freely to any other country signed up to it, without showing their passport.

The agreement was signed in 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg.

The free movement of people between European states is one of the key values of the EU, so the Schengen Agreement is really important piece of EU policy.

What countries are part of it?

Not every country in the EU is part of the Schengen agreement. The countries signed up to it are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein

These countries are known as the Schengen Area. Ireland is not part of the Schengen Area. Ireland has its own border agreement with the UK.

Why has it been in the news recently?

Recently, there has been speculation in the media that the Schengen Agreement is not working as it should. Certain politicians and commentators have suggested that the Agreement is not equipped to cope with the large influx of refugees into Europe. Some politicians have also suggested that the Schengen Agreement poses a security risk, in light of recent terrorist activity in Europe.

In order for countries in the Schengen Area to be able to enforce stricter border controls, it is possible that the Schengen Agreement may be reformed in the future. This could have a big impact on Europe, as the way that people can travel between European countries may be significantly changed.

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Published December 2nd, 2015
Last updated December 3rd, 2015
Tags european union travel europe
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Contact your MEP

Need to get in touch with your local MEP? Simply click your constituency below and we will give you the MEPs for your area and their contact details.

Select your constituency - Dublin Midlands North-West South

MEPs in Dublin Constituency

Lynn Boylan

01 873 6554


58 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

Nessa Childers

01 296 2263


11 Glenard Hall, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

Brian Hayes

01 209 6548


6 Main Street, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

MEPs in Midlands North West Constituency

Matt Carthy

042 967 4001


10 Monaghan Street, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

094 962 2710


Priory House, Barrack Street, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon

Marian Harkin

071 914 5890


28 Emmet Place, Union Street, Sligo

Mairead McGuinness

041 685 4633


Mentrim, Drumconrath, Navan, Co. Meath

MEPs in South Constituency

Deirdre Clune

1890 989 533


74 South Mall, Cork

Seán Kelly

085 125 5263


European Parliament, ASP 08F353, rue Wiertz 60, B-1047 Brussels.

Liadh Ni Riada

01 872 6100


20 Commons Road, Blackpool, Cork

Brian Crowley

021 489 6433

Maryborough Lodge, Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork

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