Europe's Schengen Zone Expands To 9 Other Countries
The Schengen agreement or zone allows people to travel across the area passport-free. Now, the Schengen zone embraces at least 24 nations right now. At least 2,000 people have celebrated in the town of Frankfurt on Oder at the border between Germany and Poland. They have celebrated with fireworks at the European Union anthem, Ode to Joy, by Beethoven.
The nine states that have joined the border-free Schengen zone are: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel called the expansion of the Schengen zone a very historic moment. She was joined by Poland’s PM Donald Tusk, Czech PM Mirek Topolanek, and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso.
A checkpoint between Austria and Slovakia was dismantled on Thursday. It was one of several events marking the enlargement from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea. At the Berg border crossing, Slovak’s PM Robert Fico and Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer sawed through the barrier.
While passport-free travel is allowed, travelers can still be asked to carry documents by any concerned countries. A Schengen visa allows for travel across participating countries for non-EU nationals.
Already, 13 states in the EU have been apart of the Schengen accord. Norway and Iceland are the two non-EU states part of the accord. While Britain and Ireland are not part of the zone, they have signed on security agreements.
One major element of the agreement is the Schengen Information Service (SIS) that features a large database in Strasbourg in France. This database lets police in any Schengen state to find out if a suspect has taken part of any crime across the EU.
Tags: Europe , European Union , Schengen Zone , Schengen
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