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What is the Schengen Agreement?

Two young people wandering in the mountains.
EU citizens are able to travel freely without passport controls between EU countries who are a part of the Schengen agreement. Getting into the EU, however, is a different story.

Different people are subject to different types of restrictions when travelling to other countries. It is usually easy for those who live in EU countries – by comparison with those who live in many other nations – to travel between other countries in the EU. This is due to what are known as the Schengen regulations. If you are Swedish and are reading this, then this is the case for you, for example, because Sweden is part of the EU’s passport union. 


What the EU countries wanted to do when they formulated and signed the Schengen regulations was to remove the national borders that existed between themselves. Individual controls at the borders specifically between EU member states are prohibited, because you should also be able to travel and move freely within other EU countries than your own without being subject to any special controls. When the EU countries work to combat crime that occurs across the borders of two or more countries, they also try to do so with the help of collaborations between the police services of the countries involved, rather than each country working to combat these crimes on its own. Where there are attempts to strengthen borders, these are the borders that lead into the EU rather than borders within the EU.

Several agreements in one

Today, all new members of the EU must adopt the regulations contained in the Schengen framework. These regulations include among other things the Schengen Agreement, which was adopted as early as 1985, and the Schengen Convention, which was adopted in 1990. The regulations were signed as a result of something called the Amsterdam Treaty, which is one of the EU’s own treaties. The name Schengen is taken from the city in Luxembourg where the Schengen Agreement was signed.

A fifteen-year-old regulation

The regulations have first and foremost affected issues relating to migration. But parts of the regulations also relate to the environment, gender equality and other important issues. They came into force in 1999, so the national borders have been “removed” throughout the period since the millennium. People must often have a passport in order to travel, but for journeys between certain European countries, an ordinary ID card is sufficient. The current rules are listed in something known as the Free Movement of Persons Directive.


What does it say about the place to which you will be travelling next?


                                                                                                                           Johanna Wester