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Nine new members to join the Schengen zone soon

European Colours
12. November 2007

European justice and interior ministers are preparing to agree that nine  European nations are ready to join continental Europe's Schengen system which does away with internal passport controls.  The new would-be members are: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Malta.

European justice and interior ministers are preparing to agree that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Malta are ready to join the Schengen zone in a first step on December 21, 2007. Checks on land and sea borders between the old Schengen member states and the nine countries will then cease to apply. In March 2008, airports will follow allowing in passengers from most other European nations without checking their passports.

Currently, 13 EU member states participate fully in Schengen: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Sweden.  Norway and Iceland are members, too. The admission of the nine new countries would be the most considerable enlargement of the European free travel zone so far.

The ending of border checks is expected to increase cross-border trade and bring economic benefits. One single Schengen visa would then give you access to 24 European states. 

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