Schengen countries are countries primarily located in a region of Europe that are named after the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 by five member states of the European Economic Community—the predecessor of the European Union. The Schengen Area was established separately from the EEC as a region with no internal border checks under the agreement.
The proposed measures under this original agreement aimed to abolish border checks at common borders. This included reduced speed vehicle checks and allowing residents that lived in border areas to cross borders away from checkpoints. Visa policies would also be aligned under the agreement.
The Schengen Agreement was further supplemented by the Schengen Convention in 1990. This law proposed abolishing systematic internal border controls and creating a common visa policy. Under this law, the region operates like one state, allowing travelers to move within the countries without border controls. It is important to note, however, that there are external border controls for anyone entering or exiting the Schengen Area. The agreements and the rules adopted under the Schengen Convention led to the creation of the Schengen Area of today in 1995.
More EU member states signed the Agreement and it was decided that it would be included in the procedures of the EU. The Agreement was added to the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, which went into effect two years later.
Today, the Schengen Area is made up of 26 states. Just four are not members of the European Union. The states that are included in the Schengen Area are (in alphabetical order): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.