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Schengen (Agreement and Convention)

Glossary of summaries


By the Schengen Agreement signed on 14 June 1985, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agreed to gradually remove controls at their internal borders and to introduce freedom of movement for all nationals of the signatory countries, other EU Member States and some non-EU countries.

The Schengen Convention supplements the agreement and lays down the arrangements and safeguards for establishing an area without internal border controls. It was signed by the same five countries on 19 June 1990, and entered into force in 1995. The agreement and the convention, as well as the related agreements and rules, together form the ‘Schengen acquis’, which was integrated in the framework of the EU in 1999 and has become EU legislation. The Lisbon Treaty has made the ‘area (…) without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured’ an EU goal.

Today 26 European countries, including 22 of the 27 EU Member States, are part of the Schengen area.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are also, in accordance with their respective Acts of Accession, part of the Schengen area, but the controls at their internal borders have not yet been lifted.

Ireland is the only Member State which is not part of the Schengen area. Although it participates in the Schengen police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, it is not part of the area without internal border controls and it maintains border controls with the Schengen countries.

Four further countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are also associated with the Schengen acquis by their respective Schengen Association Agreements with the EU, and are therefore also part of the Schengen area.

EU accession candidate countries must accept the whole of the Schengen acquis at the time of their accession. However, border controls at internal borders are only lifted (by unanimous Council decision) after an evaluation which:

  • is carried out in accordance with the applicable Schengen evaluation mechanism;
  • concludes that all conditions for correctly applying the Schengen acquis measures allowing for the lifting of internal border controls are in place.