The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg, by five European Union (EU) member states. It is an agreement that aims to create a unified territory by removing internal border controls among participating countries. The Schengen Agreement has gone through various revisions and additions, and as of 2021, it includes 26 European countries.
The Schengen Area is a free movement zone that allows citizens of participating countries to travel within the territory without the need for border or passport controls. It also allows non-EU nationals to enter one Schengen country and travel freely among the others for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This means that someone could enter the Schengen Area in France and travel to Italy, Denmark, or any other Schengen country without needing to show their passport.
However, this does not mean that the Schengen Area is a borderless territory. There are still checks at the external borders of the Schengen Zone, which are managed by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, formerly known as Frontex. This is to ensure that no one enters the Schengen Area illegally or poses a security risk.
In addition, the Schengen Agreement has several provisions that address issues related to law enforcement and security. For example, it established the Schengen Information System (SIS), a database that includes information on wanted persons, stolen objects, and lost passports. It also includes the European Arrest Warrant, which allows for the extradition of suspects between Schengen countries.
The Schengen Agreement has had a significant impact on the way people travel in Europe and has made it much easier and more convenient for tourists, business travelers, and EU citizens. It has also facilitated trade and economic growth in the region. However, in recent years, the Schengen Area has faced various challenges, including increased security concerns, the refugee crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some countries have temporarily reintroduced border controls, which have disrupted travel and raised questions about the future of the Schengen Agreement.
In conclusion, the Schengen Agreement is a significant achievement in European integration, promoting more free movement and trade. While the road ahead may be challenging, many believe that the benefits of the Schengen Area are worth the continued efforts to sustain it.