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Brussels, 13 June 2011
26th anniversary of Schengen: statement of the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström
On June 14, 26 years ago the dismantling of border controls started across the EU. The Schengen Agreement has made passport-free travel possible for over 400 million Europeans. From the initial five, the Schengen area now includes 25 countries. We make over 1.25 billion journeys as tourists every year, and we can visit our friends and relatives all over Europe without bureaucratic obstacles at internal borders. Moreover, for our economy as well, free movement is central to the success of the Single Market.
The creation of the Schengen area is one of the most tangible, popular and successful achievements of the European Union, and when necessary, we must find ways to protect and improve it.
Member States have a responsibility to control their external borders on behalf of the other Schengen countries. The EU agency Frontex, that assists Member States in this, does excellent work and should be strengthened very soon to be even more effective. The European Commission is currently reinforcing the Schengen rules and strengthening the integrity of Schengen to make this cooperation more solid. For Schengen to work, Member States must trust each other. It is my firm commitment to protect that mutual trust, and use all instruments available for securing the free movement we all cherish.
Recent events show the need for a solid European governance of Schengen, to make sure rules are decided and implemented correctly and evenly in the whole Schengen area.
The founders of Schengen have made it possible for us to move freely without giving up on security. So let us continue to work in their spirit and further enhance the freedom and security of European citizens in the years to come.