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The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have eliminated all passports and border controls at their shared borders.

Key Points

  • The name of this region stems from the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which was signed in the Luxembourgish town of Schengen.
  • This region serves as a single jurisdiction for foreign travel with a uniform visa policy.
  • The Schengen Area includes 22 of the European Union's 27 member nations.

Usage of the Schengen Agreement

  • This area allows over 400 million EU citizens and non-EU nations, tourists, business people, and others legally present on EU territory to travel around freely. 
  • This agreement permits passport-free travel, but it also requires that the countries adopt some common migration laws, allowing refugees and those on visas to move around freely. 
  • The police have been granted access to a database of stolen objects and wanted people that are shared among the members and the ability to pursue all suspected offenders across the boundaries of the member nations. 
  • States are also allowed to reintroduce border inspections for national security and "public policy" reasons for up to ten days under this agreement. 
  • This can be extended for up to two years in extraordinary circumstances.

Member Nations

  • Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Lichtenstein, Netherlands, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Sweden are members of the European Union.
  • Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus, the five remaining EU members, are legally obligated to join in the future. Ireland has maintained its opt-out status and instead has its visa policy. 
  • Even though Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway are not members of the European Union, they have signed agreements connected to the Schengen Agreement. 
  • Europe's three microstates, San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican City, have open borders and are thus considered de facto members of the Schengen Area. 
  • This is owing to the fact that travelling to or from these nations without passing via a Schengen member country is almost difficult.

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