The Schengen Area
The Schengen Area is a region consisting of 27 European countries that have eliminated border controls at their mutual borders. This area is named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement and the 1990 Schengen Convention, both of which were signed in Schengen, Luxembourg. The Schengen Area is part of the wider area of security, freedom, and justice policies of the European Union (EU).
The Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Agreement was signed on June 14, 1985, in the village of Schengen, Luxembourg. The agreement was signed by five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The agreement aimed to remove internal border controls between the signatory countries to facilitate the free movement of people and goods within the Schengen Area.
The Schengen Convention
The Schengen Convention was signed on June 19, 1990, in Schengen, Luxembourg. The convention was signed by the same five countries that signed the Schengen Agreement, along with three additional countries: Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The convention established a legal framework for the implementation of the Schengen Agreement, including rules for the control of external borders, the issuance of visas, and police and judicial cooperation.
Schengen Area Membership
As of 2021, the Schengen Area includes 27 countries. 22 of these countries are members of the European Union, while five are not. The five non-EU countries that are members of the Schengen Area are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and San Marino. The United Kingdom, which left the EU in 2020, is not a member of the Schengen Area.
The Benefits of Schengen Area Membership
The Schengen Area offers numerous benefits to its members. One of the most significant benefits is the freedom of movement within the area. Schengen Area citizens can travel freely between the member states without the need for a passport or visa. This has greatly facilitated trade, tourism, and cultural exchange within the area.
Another benefit of Schengen Area membership is increased security. The area has a common visa policy and a shared database of information on individuals who have been refused entry to the Schengen Area or who have committed crimes within the area. This has helped to prevent crime and terrorism within the area.
Schengen Area Visa Policy
The Schengen Area operates as a single jurisdiction under a common visa policy. This means that non-Schengen Area citizens must obtain a Schengen visa to travel within the area. A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
Rejected Schengen Area Visas
In 2021, the three Schengen Area member states responsible for the highest number of rejected short-term visas were France, Germany, and Spain. These three countries accounted for 66.5 percent of the total number of short-term visas rejected by Schengen Area member states.
The reasons for visa rejections vary, but they generally fall into three categories: incomplete or inaccurate application forms, lack of sufficient funds to support the trip, and concerns over the applicant’s intention to return to their home country after the visit.