Revision of Schengen Agreement in the Offing? France and Italy Press for Changes to European Border Protocol

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Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi issued a joint letter to the European Commission (“EU”) demanding that the EU make an “in-depth revision” to the Schengen Agreement.

The Schengen Agreement, initially signed in 1985, essentially allows for passport-free travel within member states, which are collectively known as the Schengen Area. Additional nations signed on to the accord in 1995 and Schengen became part of EU law with the signing of the 1999 Amsterdam Treaty. There are currently twenty-five nations – the twenty-two EU member states along with Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland -- participating in Schengen, with two additional nations scheduled to join in the near future. Notably, because Schengen became part of EU law with the 1999 treaty, it can only be revised through the EU legislative process (rather than through amendment by its members).

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