Schengen/Dublin

A Swiss border guard checks a Swiss passport and ID card.
The Schengen Association Agreement facilitates travel between Switzerland and the EU. © Photopress

The Schengen/Dublin cooperation agreements provide for close cooperation between EU member states and the associated states in border, justice, police, visa and asylum-related matters. Under Schengen, the participating states have removed checks on persons at internal borders and adopted compensatory measures to strengthen internal security. Dublin cooperation ensures that each asylum application is examined by only one state. 

The cooperation between European states known as Schengen – in the fields of justice, police and migration – was initiated in 1985 by five member states of the then European Community. It now includes almost all EU member states and four associated states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and, since 12 December 2008, Switzerland. 

Schengen/Dublin maps

The Schengen Association Agreement (SAA) facilitates travel between Switzerland and the other Schengen member states by removing checks on persons at internal borders. It also improves international judicial and police cooperation in the fight against crime. 

Legally linked to the SAA is the Dublin Association Agreement, which ensures that an asylum application is examined by only one member state within the Dublin area. The Dublin criteria establish which country is responsible for dealing with an application. This prevents asylum seekers from being sent from one country to another and, if their first application for asylum has been denied, from submitting a new one in another Dublin state.

Chronology

12.12.2008 Operational entry into force of Schengen (at airports from 29.03.2009)

01.03.2008 Formal entry into force of Schengen and Dublin

05.06.2005 Approval by the Swiss electorate (54.6% in favour)

26.10.2004 Signing of the agreements (as part of Bilaterals II)

Swiss involvement in further development of the Schengen acquis

Switzerland can help shape further development of the Schengen acquis and defend its interests directly in discussions among experts or at ambassadorial or ministerial-level meetings. Switzerland has a decision-shaping role, which is significant as decisions are generally taken without a vote.

When the EU passes a new legal act of relevance to the Schengen/Dublin acquis, Switzerland must decide, in accordance with Swiss parliamentary and direct democratic processes, whether it wishes to adopt it. Since the signing of the agreements in 2004, the EU has notified Switzerland of more than 250 further developments of the Schengen acquis. In the majority of cases, the content is of a technical nature or limited in scope and the Federal Council can give its direct approval or take note. Parliament has only had to approve the adoption of around 35 legal developments, several of which are currently in the parliamentary approval process.