In an attempt to unify Europe
and to promote free trade
and easier travel
throughout the region, the governments of most of the major countries in Europe
signed a document on 26 March, 1995
to create the Schengen States
. The most important impact this had is that one visa
(or related travel document
) is now required to enter and pass freely between the Schengen states and there is increasingly less rigourous
border control on their common borders.
The Schengen countries are:
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Conspicious by their absence are: United Kingdom, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The name is derived from the Luxembourg village of Schengen on the Moselle, bordering both France and Germany, where the agreement was signed.