What is a Schengen visa?

Dive deep into the intricacies of the Schengen visa, a document granting passage through 25 European countries. Explore its history, the pivotal Schengen Agreement, and the distinctions between the European Union and Schengen member countries

What is a Schengen visa?

Schengen visa's have been extensively described and defined. Every year more than 10 million people, from all over the world, apply to receive this document which guarantees free passage through the Schengen area which up to date consist on 25 European countries, although it is expected that several more will join by 2011. However, few is known about the story behind the Schengen Agreement which led to the Schengen visa.

Few is known about the history behind the Schengen Agreement which led to the Schengen visa.

First of all, it is interesting to know what the Schengen area consists of. This is not only European territory; where one is guaranteed free circulation, because the states that conform the Schengen space decided to eliminate all internal borders, replacing them by a single external border, which apply the procedures and rules common when applying for a Schengen visa.

One of the major doubts is concerning the bond between then European Union, the Schengen Agreement and the Shengen Visa. In fact, all the countries that conform the Schengen area are European, but not all of them are members of the European Union. For example, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. The refusal of some nations, like the United Kingdom and Ireland, to allow the Schengen visa is justified by the fact that neither of the two countries wished to suppress checking points at their borders.

The idea of eliminating the borders to allow the free circulation, is the focal point of the Schengen visa, began in the Eighties. Initially thought to only apply for the citizens of the European Union, yet it required keeping border controls in order to determine which were European citizens and who was not, therefore, they did not need controls and those that did not belong had to show all documents. However, an essential step to establish the Schengen visa, the idea advocating free circulation for everybody, triumphed. In 1985 representatives of five nations met in Schengen, a small locality of Luxembourg, to sign the Schegan Agreement. Since its entry into force in 1995 the Schegan Visa, abolished internal border controls between the signing states.

Over the years new nations incorporated to the Schegan Agreement and with the Treaty of Amsterdam, in 1997, the intergovernmental cooperation completely joined the European Union to be enforced May 1, 1999. For example, Italy signed the agreement on November 27,1990; Spain and Portugal, on June 25, 1991; Greece, November 6, 1992; Austria, April 28, 1995 ;Denmark, Finland and Sweden, on December 19, 1996. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia joined on December 21, 2007, and the associate country Switzerland signed on December 12, 2008. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Rumania are not yet full members currently in plenary session, although they will by 2011, therefore, border controls still stand between these countries and the Schengen area.



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