Schengen Agreement

Schengen Agreement shĕng´ən [key], agreement signed in 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg, by several European Community (now the European Union; EU) to establish a mutual visa policy that would permit free movement among them. It was followed (1990) by the Schengen Convention, which allowed for implementation of the agreement; full implementation began (1995) with seven countries. The Schengen Area now consists of 26 mostly EU countries; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are also participants. EU members Ireland and the United Kingdom chose not join the Schengen Area; EU members Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are required to eventually join. With the implementation of Schengen, the EU's external border control agency, Frontex, was strengthened. In 2015, as hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern and North African refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by land and sea, several Schengen countries reestablished border controls; border checks continued into 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic led EU nations to close their borders for a time in 2020 to control the disease's spread.

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