E.g., 09/01/2014
E.g., 09/01/2014

Europe’s Internal Borders Disappearing

Press Release
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Europe’s Internal Borders Disappearing

MPI Releases Fact Sheet in Advance of the Schengen Area Expansion
 
WASHINGTON – Europe will create an expanded “free-travel area” on Friday, December 21, 2007, when its borderless zone, known as the Schengen Area, incorporates nine European countries. Like EU citizens, non-EU nationals present in 24 European countries will no longer have to pass immigration controls at land or sea borders when entering other Schengen Member States. Controls at air borders will be lifted by March 30, 2008.
 
A new MPI fact sheet highlights the key issues of the Schengen Area. It shows that:
 
  • The addition of nine EU Member States to the Schengen Area — the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia — will enlarge the borderless zone to 3.6 million square kilometers or 1.4 million square miles. It marks the largest single expansion of the borderless area since borders among some EU Member States were first lifted on July 1, 1995.
  • While Brussels has given the Eastern Europeans and Malta the green light to lift immigration controls at their “internal borders,” many of these countries have yet to rectify deficits in their “external border” security infrastructure. Estonia, for instance, has a shrinking border guard personnel, while Latvia needs to address technical issues relating to the exchange of personal data with other countries. 
  • Non-EU citizens subject to visa requirements only need to obtain one “Schengen visa” to enter any one of the Schengen Member States.
  • Through a database called the Schengen Information System (SIS), countries store and exchange a million records of non-EU citizens who have previously been refused entryinto or deported from the Schengen Area. 
  • Schengen Member States will soon create the world’s largest 10-fingerprint database capable of storing data for up to 70 million individuals. It will allow Schengen Member States to hold and exchange data on visa applicants.
  • The EU has made available 1.82 billion euros between 2007 and 2013 to help Schengen Member States secure Europe’s external borders. Thirty percent of the fund will be used for land borders; 35 percent for sea borders; 20 percent for airports; and 15 percent for consular officers.
“This amounts to a ‘big-bang’ expansion of an internally borderless Europe,” said Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President of the Migration Policy Institute. “In this new age of mobility, the Schengen expansion demonstrates a real commitment on the part of the European Union to creating a union free of internal borders.”
 
Notes to journalists:
 
SIS allows competent national consular and immigration authorities to detect individuals who should be denied a visa or entry into their country. A newer version, known as SISII, will store biometric data, including photographs and fingerprints.
 
Europe’s 10-fingerprint database on visa applicants will be known as the Visa Information System.
 
The fact sheet, which contains a table and a map, is available online here.