Swiss Joining Schengenland

In a referendum, 55 percent of Swiss voters who went to the polls cast their ballots in favor of joining the Schengen agreement. Implementation will last through 2007 (though it will be complete for the 2008 European football championships, co-hosted with Austria), but the path to passport-free travel is clear. Joining the area also gives Swiss authorities to a collective database on wanted and missing persons.

Norway and Iceland are the other two non-EU members of the Schengen agreement. The rest of the old EU-15 are members, except for Ireland and the United Kingdom.

UPDATE: As Edward writes, and I should have mentioned, “It is also interesting to note that the supposedly ‘socially conservative’ Switzerland has become the first European state to give solid legal rights to gay partnerships in a popular vote. This should also put some of the recent EU referendum in some perspective.”

13 thoughts on “Swiss Joining Schengenland

  1. These ease of travel arrangements are always the most popular of EU policy outputs.

  2. “These ease of travel arrangements are always the most popular of EU policy outputs.”

    Yep, and not having to change your banknotes when you move from one country to another :).

    Of course as in this latter case there is normally more involved. Here, as Doug indicates being in Schengen also involves being in and having access to a huge data base. This will mean that the thing can be used for anti-terrorism, control of money laundering, and monitoring of illegal immigration etc.

    It is also interesting to note that the supposedly ‘socially conservative’ Switzerland has become the first European state to give solid legal rights to gay partnerships in a popular vote. This should also put some of the recent EU referendum in some perspective.

  3. All I can say – shame on you France, Germany and Italy for being so prissy about EU enlargement.

    It is the small countries which will lead Europe into the future. If FR, DE and IT want to leave, then so be it. I wouldn’t mind having a two-speed Europe with the smaller, more enthusiastic countries joined together tightly, including the 10 states of New Europe. But then isn’t it stupidly hypocritical that FR and DE were the ones talking about two-speed Europe when they’re now calling for *less* integration.

    To the Swiss – thanks! Finally, a good sign amid the EU crisis.

  4. Mihai, I would not be so precipitous in endorsing the enthusiasm of smaller states for EU deepening. People who only want a big market with no rights for individuals, beyond those they can pay for, have a stronger hold in many, if no most of them.

    DSW

  5. “not having to change your banknotes when you move from one country to another :).”
    Slick move! but not sure there’s the evidence to back up the comparison. My point is that if you disaggregated EU policies and put them to a vote, travel easing policies like Schengen would frequently succeed, but others – including EMU – would have much more trouble.

  6. Actually Doug, even this seems to be causing a fuss, and understandably, among the new EU 10. These countries are not party to Schengen, and so are excluded. This means that some member states – 13 of the original 15 – are effectively making a separate treaty, since it is reciprocal – it is tantemount to one part of the EU accepting with a third party inferior status for their own partners. How complicated all this is.

  7. Edward, neither the UK nor Ireland are members of Schengenland, while Iceland and Norway are. I think that while there may be an aspiration to fuse the EU and Schengenland, of a similar kind as with Euroland, that is not the actual situation.

    DSW

  8. “neither the UK nor Ireland are members of Schengenland, while Iceland and Norway”

    Thanks, I more or less understand that. The issue is really that this must be a very sensitive moment in the new EU states. They are our fellow citizens, but at the end of the day they may feel they aren’t.

    It is highly unfortunate that at a time when issues like the ‘polish plummer’ could be seen as having a role in the French referendum, and that when people from Central European societies may feel a little unwelcome, Schengen is expanded with Switzerland without them.

    What I would say is that there are now too many levels in this labyrinth.

  9. That “there are now too many levels in this labyrinth.” was one of the reasons for the TECE. And as I think to have already said, it this treaty had been well designed, it should be divisible in at leat to parts, one which is essentially a fusion of the previous treaties, and as such should not require more than a parlamentarian approbation, and another that would incorporate the new institutions, with provision for states that at the moment do not agree on them.

    Still I feel that “there are now too many levels in this labyrinth.” is a fair description of what the UK intends to get for the EU, when championning a multispeed development.

    DSW

  10. If FR, DE and IT want to leave, then so be it.

    And see the rump union collapse during the first bugdet discussion. IIRC Czechoslovakia collapsed like this. I consider these two speed ideas fatal in the long run. The idea that if they don’t sign they’ll just be expelled is dangerous. The psychological impact of the first country leaving is badly underestimated.

    These ease of travel arrangements are always the most popular of EU policy outputs.

    The link between the EU and the ease of travel is tenuous. Schengen is not an EU institution. Furthermore it would be an error to claim that the treaty of Schengen has a great influence on people’s travel.
    More ofthen than not before Schengen you were waved through at the border and even today you cannot really travel without ID, as in this illiberal continent police may actually demand your papers without or only at slight reason. Boarding an aircraft you need ID anyway. The abolition of passport requirements predate Schengen by far.
    Schengen has greatly eased the life of the Non-EU foreigner travelling through Europe. I consider this a good thing, but the average EU citizen will not care, especially in the light of a certain country’s Kiev embassy’s visa policy. It has also helped citizen permanently resident in another Schengen country. A small minority again.

  11. “Publius has a post on Schengen:”

    Thanks, this is quite interesting, at least in order to see a french perspective on things:

    Publius alos has a later post, about Olli Rehn and the Bulgaria, Roumania processes (which I have also mentioned at some stage, in one of the numerous posts, tho I can’t for the life of me remember where now).

    http://publiusleuropeen.typepad.com/publius/2005/06/llargissement_m.html#more

    This post concludes:

    “Enfin, le cas urkainien, apparu sur le devant de la sc?ne suite ? la r?volution orange, semble lui aussi renvoy? aux calendes grecques. Ce qui n’est d’ailleurs pas pour d?plaire ? Moscou qui voit dans les difficult?s europ?ennes actuelles une bonne occasion de redynamiser son projet de CEI. A moins que les Am?ricains ne tirent profit de la situation pour contrer ? la fois, et les Russes, et les Europ?ens, en proposant une adh?sion assez rapide du pays ? l’OTAN.”

    Which lead me to think that there is only one thing which worries me more than the French arguments in favour of the ‘no’ and that is the French argument in favour of the ‘yes’.

    I had forgotten all about Nato. But of course, if you are going to have a constitution which embraces all 25, and has as its centre economic policy, defence and security policy, and foreign policy, you really do have to think about the implications of Schengen and Nato etc.

    My feelings at this stage of the game, and I have to admit that I am reeling at the pace that all these things are happening, is that we do all need time to breathe.

    I agree with the sentiments expressed by both Barroso and here by Tobias, that what we need now is some calm cool thinking, to take stock of what has happened and what we have learnt. The EU will of course survive, and if we draw the right lessons and act appropriately we will be stronger for it, but we desperately need a breathing space, and we need a coherent consensus strategy to put order in all this.

  12. People who only want a big market with no rights for individuals, beyond those they can pay for, have a stronger hold in many, if no most of them.That’s the problem with the “European project” right there, the completely unjustified assumption that “rights” means welfare obligations and mountains of red tape – all naturally emanating from Brussels – as opposed to freedom from interference from the authorities.

    I personally find it amusing that the vote by the Swiss in favor of Schengen is being praised here as a mark of what it means to be good Europeans, as not only was this approval obtained via a referendum, the very instrument many of you claim to be too flawed to entrust major decisions on sovereignty to, but in reality it is precisely those countries which are not members of Schengen who have been most willing to prove their “Good European” status to the new EU members in a way that counts – by opening their job markets to them. I have a feeling that the hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans who are now legally working and residing in the UK and Ireland have a far higher estimation of these two countries than they do the “Good Europeans” of the continent with their “social justice” schemes and sclerotic labor markets to which the Poles, Czechs and others will have no access for years to come.

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