France Suspends Schengen

French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that in the light of what has happened in London France is reintroducing European Union border controls. There is a clause within the Schengen Agreement which allows for controls to be reinstated and Sarkozy said that this had been activated by France. The decision is described as temporary. Such suspensions have occured in the past for sporting events (or in the case of Spain for EU summits), but this idea of ‘temporary’ might be a little longer.

There is suggestion in the Italian press that the Netherlands may also have done so, but I still can’t find confirmation. Italy has explicitly said it isn’t going to suspend. The UK of course isn’t party to the Schengen agreement.

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.”