Swiss border guards at the airport.
The Schengen Association Agreement facilitates travel between Switzerland and the EU. © FOCBS

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, 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 Schengen system of cooperation in Europe – in the fields of justice, police, visas and borders – 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. 

Maps: Schengen/Dublin

The Schengen Association Agreement (SAA) facilitates travel between Switzerland and EU Member States, principally by removing checks on persons at internal borders. It also improves global cooperation in police and judicial matters 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. 


  • 12.12.2008: Operational entry into force Schengen (at the airports on 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 developments in Schengen acquis

Switzerland can help shape legal developments in the Schengen acquis and represent its interests directly in discussions among experts and 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 its 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 350 developments in the Schengen/Dublin acquis. In the majority of cases, the content is of a technical nature or limited in scope and the Federal Council can either give its approval directly or simply take note of the new development. The Swiss Parliament has only had to approve the adoption of around 15% of the developments, which are also subject to an optional referendum (in accordance with Art. 141 of the Federal Constitution). Several new developments are currently going through the parliamentarian approval process.