EU,EEA,EFTA and Schengen Countries
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed in 1985 by five of the ten countries (the Benelux, France, and Germany). This treaty aims to achieve free movement within Europe without passports. This means that the residents of these countries can travel freely throughout most EU countries, lifting passport control.
Because the United Kingdom did not sign this agreement, there are passport controls to and from the United Kingdom. The same goes for Ireland.
This means that when you are in an EU country, you can travel freely to other EU countries by train or ship without passport control as long as you carry the identification card issued by your home country. However, if there is a bus with more than two border controls (internal borders) and not all Schengen countries are reached, one needs a valid ID card.
What are the EU countries?
The EU (European Union) is a large free trade area where you can live and work. There are 27 countries in the European Union:
- The Czech Republic
- The United Kingdom
This means that if you live in one of these 27 countries, you have the same rights as a citizen.
What are the EEA countries?
The EEA (European Economic Area) is a treaty between the EU and 4 countries, namely
To be precise, Switzerland has a special status which means that it can not influence the legislation but does have to abide by this legislation.
What are the EFTA countries?
The EFTA (European Free Trade Agreement) is a treaty between 4 countries:
- Iceland – Denmark
- Liechtenstein – Austria, Germany, Switzerland
- Norway – Sweden
- Switzerland – Austria, France, Germany
There are a few differences between EEA and EFTA. For example, Iceland is not part of the EEA but part of EFTA. Also, Norway is not a member of the EU and not part of the EEA, but it is a member of EFTA and has signed the Schengen agreement.
There are two requirements that must be fulfilled if you want to move to one of these countries:
1. Your home country needs to be a part of the EU (or EEA or EFTA), and
2. You need to meet the requirements of that country.
What are Schengen countries?
- The Czech Republic
For all practical purposes, that means that these countries have agreed to abolish passport controls at their common borders. This has been implemented only partly, for example at airports and ports (but not at land borders).
Which all are the blocked countries?
The EEA countries and Switzerland are two different things that both need a passport: if you are traveling from one of these 4 countries, you still need a valid passport to travel into the Schengen area ( EU + EEA + EFTA ). As described above, Switzerland has a special status which means that it can not influence the legislation but does have to abide by this legislation.
What is covered by the EEA Agreement?
The EEA Agreement covers the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital.
The EEA Agreement does not cover the following policy areas:
- – Agriculture and fisheries
- – Taxation
- – Justice and Home Affairs (except EU citizenship, asylum, and customs union)
- – The AREA of freedom
- security and justice
What is covered by the Schengen Agreement?
The Schengen Agreement covers the free movement of persons. The EU countries which decided to sign this agreement removed passport control at their mutual borders.
The EU and Schengen countries are not the same things! The first group includes all 27 EU countries and the EEA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland). The second group only includes those countries that decided to sign the Schengen Agreement.
Also, not all Schengen countries are EU members (e.g. Switzerland).
All 27 EU countries are part of the Schengen area, but Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are still in transition to full Schengen membership. This means there might be border checks with some extra rules to follow when traveling between Bulgaria/Croatia/Cyprus/Romania and the Schengen countries.
What is an EEA or Schengen visa?
A visa allows you to travel to a foreign country for a limited period of time. They are different depending on which country you want to visit, so always check if you need one before traveling. An EEA or Schengen visa allows you to travel freely within the Schengen area (the EU countries, EEA countries, and Switzerland) for a certain period of time.
How does the EEA EFTA States contribute financially to the EU?
The EEA EFTA States are not full EU members but contribute some money to the EU. They do this by paying a membership fee (per capita) for participating in several EU programs. One of these programs is Horizon2020, the EU’s main R&D funding program. The other programs are not very relevant to scientists, and do not provide extra money but rather access to some EU funds.
This fee is small compared to those paid by full members. For instance, Spain alone pays over 682 billion € per year, while Norway contributes only 19 million €. Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland do not pay contributions to the EU.
The Schengen agreement is an agreement for the free movement of people. It was signed by 26 European countries in 1985 and has been implemented to some extent to this day. The EU is a different organization from the Schengen agreement, but they have many similarities. For example, both organizations allow the free movement of goods, services, and capital. As for differences, countries in the EU are also part of all its policies like agriculture, taxation, and justice, and home affairs – things which are not covered under the Schengen Agreement.