The Schengen Area
The EU as an area of free movement
In 1985, the signing of the Schengen Agreement by five EU Member States marked the beginning of cooperation to dismantle controls at internal borders. In subsequent years, most EU Member States, along with a few non-EU countries, have joined this cooperation and together they form the Schengen Area.
This means that the countries participating in Schengen cooperation no longer carry out border checks at the borders they share with each other. Thus, people may freely move from one Schengen country to another without being subjected to passport controls.
The removal of internal borders means that the Schengen countries need to cooperate with each other to maintain a high level of security within the Schengen area. This also implies shared responsibility for managing their common external borders and, good cooperation with their non-Schengen neighbours outside the EU. Schengen cooperation entails common criteria for controlling the external borders, common rules for entering the Schengen area and increased police cooperation between the participating countries.
The 26 Schengen area countries are currently made up of 22 out of the 27 EU countries as well as four non-EU countries.
Schengen area countries:
Security for citizens and travellers
EU State authorities need to cooperate on border management to ensure the security of citizens and travellers in the EU. A number of information sharing mechanisms are central to this cooperation.
- The Visa Information System (VIS) allows Schengen States to exchange visa data, in particular data on decisions relating to short-stay visa applications.
- The Schengen Information System (SIS) allows Schengen States to exchange data on suspected criminals, on people who may not have the right to enter into or stay in the EU, on missing persons and on stolen, misappropriated or lost property.
EU Citizen Consular Protection
The Commission encourages Member States not to consider as illegal stay in the EU the periods of stay of third-country nationals in a Member State caused by Covid-related measures