Switzerland to join Schengen agreement

At its meeting today (9.4.01) the European Commission agreed that negotiations should be opened with Switzerland so that it could join the Schengen agreement. Switzerland would have the same "associate" status as Norway and Iceland who are also not members of the European Union. This move means that Switzerland will have to sign up to the voluminous Schengen acquis and implement all its recommendations. In return Switzerland would get a seat the the justice and home affairs "Mixed Committee" which deals with Schengen issues.

A pre-condition that Switzerland also signs up to one of the main EU asylum measures the Dublin agreement, which establishes criteria and mechanisms for determining which State is responsible for considering an application for asylum submitted in one of its member states.

Thirteen of the 15 EU states (excluding the UK and Ireland) are full "Schengen" members (signed up the the full Schengen agreement/acquis). The UK and Ireland (who share a "common travel area") are about to participate in the SIS only on police, but not immigration, aspects. Two non-EU states - Norway and Iceland - are sign-up too, making a total of 15 states fully in Schengen. Switzerland would also get acess to and be able to place requests and "alerts" on the Schengen Information System (SIS) based in Strasbourg.

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