EP: Schengen Agreement

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

Written by SpunOut.ie


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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