On 14 June 1985, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands met near the small town of Schengen in Luxembourg to sign the Schengen Agreement. The agreement provided for the abolition of all passport and other controls between participating countries and the establishment of a single external border. However, the provisions of the Agreement were not brought into force until a later date. At the time, the Schengen area was seen as a kind of laboratory testing the creation of a common passport area before extending Schengen to the whole of the EU. Originally, the concept of free movement was intended to allow European workers to travel freely and settle in any EU state, but there has been no abolition of border controls within the Union. A breakthrough took place in 1985, when cooperation between the various governments (i.e. Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) led to the signing of an agreement on the gradual abolition of checks at the common borders in Schengen (a small village in Luxembourg); It was followed in 1990 by the signing of the Convention implementing that Agreement. The developments resulting from the Schengen Agreement were incorporated into the EU legal framework in 1999 with the Treaty of Amsterdam. Today, the Schengen area comprises 26 states, including all EU Member States with the exception of Ireland and the United Kingdom (opt-out clause), Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, as well as four non-EU Member States – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Bulgaria and Romania are currently in the process of joining the Schengen area. Relations between Iceland and Norway, of the one part, and Ireland and the United Kingdom, of the other part, as regards the areas of the Schengen acquis applicable to Iceland and Norway are governed by an Agreement approved by the Council of the European Union on 28 June 1999. Denmark also retains a unique position with regard to Schengen because, unlike other Schengen countries, it can choose whether or not to apply new decisions under the Schengen agreements. Although these measures are already included in the EU, the new agreement establishes national focal points to coordinate these activities, which could facilitate their increased use.
This Agreement shall not form part of Schengen as such or of the Schengen acquis. However, as with the original Schengen Agreement, cooperation between countries under Schengen III will eventually be extended to the whole of the EU. The creation of the Schengen area has brought significant benefits to European citizens and businesses. In recent months, however, the system has been severely tested by terrorist attacks and the refugee crisis, leading to the reintroduction of internal border controls by some Member States. In fact, the Schengen Agreement paved the way for the cancellation of the Schengen visa. Although this is not part of the initial provisions of the agreement, visitors from the fifteen countries mentioned above only need a visa for all. The Schengen visa can allow non-members of the European Union to travel freely through the countries participating in the program. With the entry into force of the Schengen Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam of 2 October 1997 and 1 May 1999, Schengen cooperation – initially solely on the basis of an international agreement – was incorporated into Union law.
Although Schengen has officially become part of the EU, the agreement does not apply to all member states. The UK initially refused, preferring to maintain its own national borders. Ireland has followed suit in order to maintain its common travel area with the United Kingdom. While the agreement allows EU citizens, many non-EU citizens, businessmen and tourists to move freely without being subject to border controls, Schengen member states have made investments and tightened controls at their common external borders to ensure the safety of those living or travelling in the Schengen area. .