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Enlargement Of The Schengen Area Announced

by Philip Morton, Investors Offshore.com

21 December 2007


As of 21st December 2007, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia will become part of the Schengen area, with controls at internal land and sea borders between these countries and the current member states lifted.

The result of this is, according to the European Commission, a very tangible expression of the free movement ideal: this latest enlargement extends the free movement area across 4,278 km.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced on Thursday, ahead of the enlargement that:

"As from this week, people can travel hassle-free between 24 countries of the Schengen area without internal land and sea border controls- from Portugal to Poland and from Greece to Finland. I wish to congratulate the nine new Schengen members, the Portuguese presidency and all EU Member States for their efforts. Together we have overcome border controls as man-made obstacles to peace, freedom and unity in Europe, while creating the conditions for increased security".

Vice-President, Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Justice, and Security added:

"An area of 24 countries without internal borders is a unique and historical achievement. I feel very proud and privileged to have been involved in making it happen. Joining the Schengen space is not an easy undertaking. I give enormous credit to these Member States. All the new member countries, who have put in place significant, state of the art border security systems."

"Indeed, the extension of Schengen demonstrates the EU's commitment to facilitating legitimate travelling within and into the EU whilst at the same time reinforcing the security of our external borders and thereby strengthening the safety of all EU citizens."

Following enlargement, all citizens of the enlarged Schengen space will benefit from quicker and easier travelling. From 21 December onwards, a citizen can travel from the Iberian Peninsula to the Baltic States and from Greece to Finland without border checks.

Explaining the likely benefits of the enlargement of the Schengen area, the EC stated that:

"It will be easier for families, relatives and friends living on different sides of a border to visit each other. Eternal queues at (busy) border crossing points will no longer exist. Border regions will develop together as it will be easier to travel from one region to the other. An increase in tourism is expected, with a positive impact on infrastructure."

It continued:

"Lifting internal border control is also a question of trust between the Member States. It is through a rigorous peer evaluation process that Member States have ensured each member state is equipped to guard the external borders on behalf of all other members and issue visas valid for the whole Schengen area. The new Member States have worked tirelessly to improve, their handling of external border controls, visa policy, data protection and police cooperation."

And concluded:

"For bona fide travellers, travels in an enlarged EU will be faster and easier. A third country national will be able to travel on the basis of one Schengen visa and will not need separate national visas."


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