EUR-Lex Access to European Union law
This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
By signing the Schengen Agreement 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, along with the related agreements and rules, together form the ‘Schengen acquis’, which was integrated into the framework of the EU in 1999, becoming EU legislation. The Lisbon Treaty made the ‘area without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured’ an EU goal.
Today 27 European countries, including 23 of the 27 EU Member States and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – are part of the Schengen area.
Since 1 January 2023, checks on persons at internal land and sea borders between Croatia and the other countries of the Schengen area have been lifted and the Schengen acquis has fully applied to Croatia (Council Decision (EU) 2022/2451). Checks at internal air borders will be lifted from 26 March 2023, given the need for this to coincide with the dates of the International Air Transport Association’s summer/winter time schedule.
Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, in accordance with their respective acts of accession, will soon be part of the Schengen area.
Ireland is the only Member State which is not part of the Schengen area. Although it participates in Schengen police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, it is not part of the area without internal border controls and maintains border controls with the Schengen countries.
The four EFTA countries are also associated with the Schengen acquis through their respective Schengen Association agreements with the EU, and are therefore also part of the Schengen area.
EU 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: