Schengen (Agreement and Convention)
By the Schengen Agreement signed on 14 June 1985, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agreed to gradually remove controls at their common borders and to introduce freedom of movement for all nationals of the signatory Member States, other Member States or third countries.
The Schengen Convention supplements the Agreement and lays down the arrangements and safeguards for implementing freedom of movement. It was signed by the same five Member States on 19 June 1990, but did not enter into force until 1995.
The Agreement and the Convention as well as the related agreements and rules together form the "Schengen acquis". Since 1999, this has formed part of the institutional and legal framework of the European Union by virtue of a protocol to the Treaties.
The Schengen agreements have been extended over time: Italy signed them in 1990, Spain and Portugal in 1991, Greece in 1992, Austria in 1995, Finland and Sweden in 1996, Denmark also in 1996, but under a special arrangement, and the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia in 2007. Ireland and the United Kingdom are only partial participants in the Schengen acquis, since their border controls have been maintained.
Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania also apply only parts of the Schengen acquis, as a decision of the Council of the European Union is still required before controls at their borders can be lifted.
Four non-Community countries also belong to the Schengen area, though they only have a limited role in decision-taking: Iceland and Norway since 1996 and Switzerland and Liechtenstein since 2008.
Countries that are candidates for Union membership must have accepted the whole of the Schengen acquis at the time of accession.