Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Schengen treaty is an agreement originally signed on June 14, 1985, by five European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands). The agreement was signed aboard the ship Princesse Marie-Astrid on the Moselle River, near Schengen, a small town in Luxembourg on the border with France and Germany.
Its goal was to end border checkpoints and controls within the Schengen area (also known as Schengenland) and harmonize external border controls. It was originally separate from the European Union (then European Community) but has since become an EU competence.
Additional countries have since also signed the convention, making the total number of signatories twenty-six.
Membership and implementation
The treaty signed in 1985 set out the steps to be taken to create the Schengen area. A further document, called the Schengen Convention (or more fully: Convention applying the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 between the governments of the states of the Benelux Economic Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the French Republic on the gradual abolition of checks at their common borders), was created which put the Schengen area into practice. This second document replaced the first and was signed by each country on the dates shown below.
For each member country there has been a delay between signing the treaty (becoming a member) and actually implementing it.
- June 19, 1990 Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands
- November 27, 1990 - Italy
- June 25, 1992 - Portugal, Spain
- November 6, 1992 - Greece
- April 28, 1995 - Austria
- December 19, 1996 - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden
- May 1, 2004 - Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia (not yet implemented)
- October 16, 2004 - Switzerland (not yet ratified or implemented)
Despite signing, Switzerland has not yet fully ratified the treaty. Whilst it has been ratified in parliament, a referendum on the issue is to be held on 5 June 2005 after 86,000 signatures were collected by the 31 March 2005, more than the 50,000 signatures required to force a referendum.
- March 26, 1995 - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain
- 1997 - Italy (October 26), Austria (December 1). Greece (December 8) implements theoretically but in practice internal border controls continue until 2000
- March 26, 2000 - Greece implements the treaty fully
- March 25, 2001 Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland
The ten countries who signed on May 1, 2004 will not implement the treaty before 2006, with the date of implementation for each country set independently from the others. Switzerland are also yet to implement the treaty. Therefore only fifteen countries are currently full members of the Schengen Treaty.
The microstates of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are within the Schengen area by default since they have free movement arrangements with signatories of the treaty. Greenland and the Faroe Islands are also within the area due to their free movement arrangements with Denmark. Liechtenstein will enter the Schengen area at the same time as Switzerland as they too have an existing free movement arrangement.
The Schengen Treaty's provisions
The Schengen Treaty means that people within the participating countries can move into any other participating country without having to show their passports, or in any other way being checked. The Schengen Treaty also means that participating countries will co-ordinate their external controls. This is necessary since a person acceptable to one country but not to another can still enter both, if one admits him. For example, immigration policy must be agreed upon as immigrants can enter through the most relaxed border and make their way to less hospitable countries once within Schengenland unless entry criteria are homogeneous.
A country is permitted by the terms of the treaty to reinstate border controls for a short period if it is deemed in the interest of national security. An example of this occurred in Portugal during the 2004 European Football Championship.
The Schengen Treaty also includes consent to share information about people, via the Schengen Information System. This means that a potentially undesirable person cannot 'disappear' simply by moving from one participant country to another as each country will know the same about the person's background.
Previously, a criminal with police in hot pursuit would be safe once they managed to cross the border, but under the agreements of the Schengen Treaty police from one nation can cross national borders to chase their target.
The Schengen Treaty intends to harmonise the laws and regulations of several policy areas, in order to minimise the extent to which criminals can take advantage of the relaxation of controls. For example, the Dutch policy on drugs differs from the French policy, and a person could buy drugs in the Netherlands and transport them to France to sell on the black market. This is much easier when there are no border controls between the two countries. As a result of this particular difference in policy France insisted on maintaining border controls on people entering France from the Benelux countries for some time after the Treaty was implemented.
Schengen and the European Union
All Schengen Treaty signatories except Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are European Union members. Two EU members (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland) have opted not to sign the Schengen Treaty. The UK wishes to maintain its own borders; its geographical layout of being surrounded by sea makes this more logical than for others. Ireland has a free movement arrangement with the UK (called the Common Travel Area) similar to the Schengen Treaty, so in order to maintain this can only sign the Schengen Treaty if the UK does. In 2000 the UK and Ireland did begin participating in the Schengen Information System. The islands of Heligoland (Germany) are also outside the Schengen area.
The Schengen Treaty was created independently of the European Union in part due to the lack of consensus amongst EU members, and in part because those ready to implement the idea did not wish to wait for others who were not ready.
The Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated the developments brought about by the Schengen agreement into the European Union framework, effectively making the Schengen Treaty part of the EU. Amongst other things the Council of the European Union took the place of the Executive Committee which had been created under the Schengen agreement. Future applicants to the European Union must fulfil the Schengen Treaty criteria regarding their external border policies in order to be accepted into the EU. The existing signatories who are not EU members have less opportunity to particiate in shaping the evolution of the Schengen Treaty as a result of the Treaty of Amsterdam. Their options are effectively reduced to agreeing with whatever is presented before them or withdrawing from the Treaty.
Despite the Schengen Treaty having been incorporated into the EU, it has not been voted upon by any EU institution. Because of this, there are some concerns regarding the democratic accountability of the Treaty. Greece, prior to accepting and signing the treaty, raised questions about the legality of the Schengen Information System, and suggested that it represented a violation of privacy.
For citizens of countries not party to the Schengen treaty restrictions exist that govern the length of ones stay within the combined union. The general rule stipulates a maximum 90-day stay within a 180-day period beginning from the first day of entry. One may leave and return a number of times within the 180-day period but the combined stay within the region must total no more than 90 days.
- Schengen Countries (source for this article)
- Switzerland joins Schengen
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