In recent days you’ve probably heard of Schengen and you’ve heard news of the type “Schengen threatened”, “Schengen danger if not reached an agreement on quotas of refugees”, and even “Rodrigo Rato may not leave the Schengen area, since the judge has withdrawn his passport”. Probably you wonder therefore what Schengen and why it is so important if you are thinking of traveling through Europe with your car. Let’s look at a quick glance, in 5 questions and answers, what Schengen countries which compose it, what happened to the old border controls and what you must consider before you cross the border of another country with your car.
1. What is Schengen?
The Schengen area was created in 1995 following the Schengen Agreement, the practical and symbolic objective to make Europe had a cohesion removing barriers only country borders. They did not disappear with the Schengen borders, much less, but border controls. So that a citizen who is able to move in the Schengen territory by land (except in very exceptional circumstances) without passing through border controls. In other words, you can hop in your car in Madrid and travel to Norway without having to carry your passport (even if it is advisable to always carry when traveling outside Spain).
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2. What countries are members of Schengen?
Avoid confusing the EU with Schengen. There are countries that signed the Schengen agreement and are not in the EU, and vice versa, European Union countries that have not signed the Schengen agreement. The Schengen area comprise Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands , Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.
Although Ireland and the UK are in the European Union, they are not present in Schengen, but allow free movement of European citizens. Thus, for practical purposes, borders can be crossed with Britain and the rest of the countries belonging to Schengen.
Something similar happens with small states, such as Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.
3. Still remaining border controls?
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and Romania still have not integrated the Schengen area, but they will do to meet the conditions imposed by the European Union. In these countries border controls may be, and sometimes long lines that make your drive is lengthened a little more than necessary, but already comply with the free movement of persons, so that the national identity is more than enough to overcome the border.
In the rest of the EU, border controls are testimonials. In many border crossings there is still a building, and possibly police patrols, demarcating the limits of each country. But unless there is a safety issue, no border checks are usually carried out.
4. Is there a fee to cross the border with some countries belonging to Schengen?
not confuse border controls with tolls, or bullet ( vignette ). Your car across the border in some countries payment is required to use its highways. It is the equivalent of a toll, with the subtle difference that the system is to acquire an adhesive, place it on the moon of your car, and not to pay until it expires or leave its borders. It is a toll that, therefore, has to be paid only with your car across the border and to use certain roads in the country. The vignette can be purchased in neighboring establishments and at the border itself, since this can lead to move without us fine and there are good controls, random, and electronic, to make sure we were following its use.
It is also important to know the traffic regulations in certain countries, especially with regard to issues such as mandatory use of winter tires, lights 24 hours, or even to have an identifying emission to access some cities.
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5. What happens if we fled, pursued by the police and we crossed the border?
Schengen raised some dilemmas, such as security in the countries that signed the agreement. In addition to facilitating the free movement of persons, Schengen countries agreed to further measures to strengthen the links between its security forces and facilitate the prosecution of crimes committed in the member states. Surveillance or persecution initiated a Schengen state may be continued in another, for a certain time and alerting the authorities of the country where there is no jurisdiction for what happened.
If some agents chasing a fugitive who has committed a crime, or indications that it will be committed are taken, they can continue their persecution in another country belonging to Schengen, especially when it comes to such serious issues such as murder, robbery , drug trafficking and so on.