What is the difference between the Schengen area and the EU?

The European Union is a political and economic organization, heir to the European Economic Community (EEC), born in 1957. From six countries at the start (West Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), the EU now has 27 Member States. States that have common policies and also adhere to guidelines tailored to each country.

The European Union guarantees the free movement of persons, goods, capital and services. Among the Member States, 19 constitute the “euro zone” and have adopted the single currency.

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What are EU Member States?

The European Union consists of 27 Member States. They were still 28 in 2020 before leaving the UK.

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Czech Republic
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden

What is the Schengen area?

Where the EU is about the movement of people, capital, goods and services, the Schengen area is only about the movement of people. It allows individuals to move freely from one country to another in this area without control at the internal borders. On the other hand, control at the external borders is strengthened.

It was on 14 June 1985 that the first agreement was signed in Schengen (Luxembourg) by Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, which was to lead to the creation of the Schengen area. Since then, other countries have joined the Schengen area, and the latter now consists of 26 countries.

Although not all EU members are in the Schengen area, countries that are not in the European Union have acceded to the Schengen Convention.

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What are the member states of the Schengen area?

22 EU Member States are part of the Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

4 non-EU countries, on the other hand, are: Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Under certain exceptional circumstances, countries may decide to reintroduce controls at their national borders. This was particularly the case in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Schengen area: how does it work?

The Schengen area is an area of ​​free movement without internal border controls and with a common external border (ie between a Schengen Member State and a non-Schengen State)“, States the French Ministry of the Interior. Thus, a European is not subject to any border control if he travels from one country to another in the Schengen area. However, in order to enter or leave the Schengen area, he must present a national identity card or a valid passport, as the case may be.

On the other hand, the situation is different for a foreigner who wants to circulate in the Schengen area. If he does not have a residence permit, he must declare his entry into the territory if his citizenship is subject to a Schengen visa, and report to the border police, customs or gendarmerie at the border. If he has a residence permit or a long-term residence visa that is valid for 1 year or more, he can cross the border by presenting his passport and residence permit.

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