This weekend marks 30 years since the Schengen agreement was signed by European leaders marking the end of passport control across a large area of Europe.
Now passports are no longer required when travelling through 21 countries of the European Union, as well as non-EU countries Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The Schengen area functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy and no internal border controls. The Schengen area encourages the free movement of goods, services, money and people – the founding principles of the European Union.
The little Luxembourg town of Schengen, where the agreement was signed on a boat on the Moselle River back in 1985, was the scene of celebrations by EU leaders today, including president of the EU Parliament Martin Schulz and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
“Maybe Schengen is a small place, but it is a big idea,” said Mr Schulz.
Commented Luxembourg newspaper, Luxemburger Wort, “While the borders within the EU have largely been eliminated by the Schengen agreement, the event also served to point out that around the bloc there is nonetheless a border that thousands of migrants are trying to cross.”
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel urged Europe’s leaders to show the same kind of bravery encompassed in the Schengen agreement in tackling the EU’s current crises.
The weekend celebrations also include the 30th anniversary of Spain and Portugal joining the European community.
Other articles by Jon Danzig:
- What Nigel Farage told British expats in Spain
- Fact: Most migrants come to work or study
- The free movement of people: it works both ways