House of Lords Library

Schengen Agreement: A Short History

Published Monday, March 7, 2016

This House of Lords Library briefing sets out a short history of the Schengen Agreement and provides a timeline for major events in its development. It also provides further information on recent developments, including the temporary reintroduction of border controls by member states in response to recent increases in refugees and migrants from outside of the Schengen Area and in response to the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015.

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The Schengen Agreement concerns the removal of internal border checks between countries which have agreed to comply with the Schengen acquis (or body of law). It also provides for cooperation in police and judicial matters and sets rules for checks at external borders.

It has its roots in an agreement signed in 1985 between Belgium, France, the then Federal Republic of Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It was first incorporated into the European Union’s legal framework by a protocol to the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam. Today, the Schengen Area consists of 22 EU member states and four non-EU member states.

The United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Area but it does participate in the Schengen Information System which shares data between member states, and in certain police and judicial cooperation agreements.

Lords Library notes LLN-2016-0013

Author: Charley Coleman

Topics: EU law and treaties, EU political integration, Immigration, International trade

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.