December 18, 2007
Contact: April Siruno, 202-266-1908
MPI Releases Fact Sheet in Advance of the Schengen Area
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
- 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
- Europe’s 10-fingerprint database
on visa applicants will be known as the Visa
The fact sheet, which contains a table and a map, is available