Image: Schengen Area, Schengen Visa Info
The Schengen Convention, named after the small town in Luxembourg where it was signed, removes controls at the common borders and allows freedom of movement for all citizens of the signatory EU countries, other EU countries or specified non-EU countries.
The key milestone in establishing an internal market with free movement of persons was the conclusion of the two Schengen agreements, i.e. the Agreement proper of 14 June 1985, and the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, which was signed on 19 June 1990 and entered into force on 26 March 1995. Initially, the Schengen implementing Convention (signed only by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) was based on intergovernmental cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs. A protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty provided for the transfer of the ‘Schengen acquis’ into the Treaties. Today, under the Lisbon Treaty, it is subject to parliamentary and judicial scrutiny. As most Schengen rules are now part of the EU acquis, it has no longer been possible, since the EU enlargement of 1 May 2004, for accession countries to ‘opt out’ (Article 7 of the Schengen Protocol).