The Schengen Agreement, one of the most significant achievements in European integration, came into force on March 26, 1995. It is a treaty signed by five of the European Union member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) in 1985, seeking to abolish border controls between them.
The agreement paved the way for a borderless Europe, where citizens of the Schengen area can travel freely across borders without the need for passports or visa requirements. Since its inception, the Schengen area has expanded significantly, with 26 countries now participating in the agreement, including 22 European Union member states.
The Schengen Agreement was named after the small village of Schengen in Luxembourg, where the original treaty was signed. The agreement aimed to promote greater economic and social integration, and it has certainly achieved that goal. The Schengen area now allows for the free movement of people, goods, and services, creating a single European market.
The Schengen Agreement has also placed a strong emphasis on security and the fight against crime. While there are no longer border controls at internal Schengen borders, there are strict controls at external Schengen borders. The agreement created the Schengen Information System (SIS), a database that allows member states to share information about people and vehicles that may be associated with criminal activity. This helps to prevent and combat cross-border crime and terrorism.
The Schengen Agreement has certainly been a success story of European integration. Its implementation has led to significant benefits for the economies and societies of the participating countries. The benefits of the agreement are not just limited to the Schengen area either. Non-Schengen countries have also benefited from increased trade and tourism opportunities with the region.
In conclusion, the Schengen Agreement came into force on March 26, 1995, and has since brought about significant economic and social integration within Europe. It has allowed for the free movement of people, goods, and services, while also providing strong security measures to prevent and combat cross-border crime. Its success is evident in the now 26 countries that participate in the agreement, creating a single European market with a borderless Europe.