SCHENGEN AREA (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – IR)

News-CRUX-10     16th February 2024        
output themes

Context: Kosovo recently secured visa-free access to the Schengen zone in Europe, world’s largest zone of free movement, becoming the last western Balkan non-European Union nation to be waived visa requirements.

Schengen Area

  • About: The Schengen Area, also known as the Schengen Countries Zone, comprises 27 European nations.
  • Members: Include 23 of the 27 EU member states, excluding Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania, and all members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
  • Non-EU Members Inside Schengen: Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway, although not part of the EU, are integral members of the Schengen Area.
  • Origin of the Schengen Zone: The zone is named after Schengen, a small Luxembourg village bordering France and Germany.
  • The agreement establishing the Schengen Zone was signed in 1985 among five of the six EU founding members, excluding Italy.
  • Access for Kosovo Citizens: Citizens of Kosovo are now permitted to enter the Schengen Zone as tourists for a duration of 90 days within a 180-day period.
  • Expansion of the Schengen Zone: Croatia, which became a European Union (EU) member in 2013, officially joined the Schengen Zone in 2023.
  • Romania and Bulgaria, EU members since 2007, are set to gain partial entry into the Schengen Zone in March.
  • EU’s border-free policy: For nationals of any country, the benefit is the freedom to travel with a single Schengen visa to other European nations within the borderless area. For EU states, the Visa-free borderless travel, alongside the single currency adopted by 20 EU countries, is the most visible symbol of European integration.
  • Schengen Visa: It is an official document mandatory for some non-Europeans to travel to all the 27 countries which are part of the Schengen area.