What is the Schengen Treaty? How does it affect me? Well…
Let me start with a bit of a history lesson. In 1985 France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg & Netherlands came together to create, and sign The Schengen Agreement; a pact between the five countries that would abolish national borders, and give free movement to the people. Over the course of the next 23 years, countries such as Greece, Norway, Slovakia and Slovenia would all join to establish the 26 nations as they are now.
The 26 countries of The Schengen Area are the following:
There is a clear distinction between being in the Schengen and being in the European Union (EU). There are some countries within the EU who have not signed the treaty for the Schengen Agreement either due to their own internal domestic issues or due to their own opt-out situation.
The UK and Ireland have both opted out of signing the agreement as they have their own border controls and visa requirements, and the countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus have all expressed a desire to enter in the future. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are all part of the Schengen zone but they are not members of the EU.
Bulgaria and Romania are members of the EU since 2007 but they have not yet signed the Schengen Agreement. They submitted their declaration but due to other concerns such as immigration, their request was rejected. The same goes for Croatia, due to the influx of migrants coming through the western Balkan countries with the aim of reaching the Schengen Zone.
In 2016, due to the migrant crisis, a number of countries reintroduced checks on the border: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. Countries can also restrict border crossings under certain conditions or during certain events such as when Portugal reintroduced checks for the UEFA Euro Championship and for four days during Pope Francis’s visit. France declared a national state of emergency in 2016 following a number of terrorist attacks in the capital and in Nice, and they restricted internal borders.
How does the Schengen treaty affect EU citizens? Well, in short, as of writing this, a Schengen visa is not needed. Each country within the area has their own policies for citizens but an overall rule is that they’re allowed 90 days (in any 180-day period) within each country on the sole basis that each member states offers the same in return. With regards to how the Schengen Agreement affects UK citizens, and how it will after leaving the European Union, I will be going into more detail in a separate post as I don’t want to make this most exceptionally long winded.
I won’t be going into too much detail for a lot of this, as honestly, I don’t understand a lot of the text. But there are agreements in place with certain non EU countries regarding whether or not a Schengen visa is needed and the limitations placed on each country. Instead, I will just link to the Schengen Visa Info website when all the information can be found for every single state. This was also the main source of my information for this article so you will find some similarities in the text, but I’ve tried to rewrite it into layman’s terms for generalisation purposes.
This article is actually 1 of 3 regarding the Schengen Agreement so stay tuned for the others.