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Switzerland joins Schengen club

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Switzerland joins Schengen club

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Travelling to Switzerland has just become a lot easier for many Europeans. As of midnight EU citizens and Schengen visa holders no longer face passport controls as they enter the country.

The Schengen agreement abolishes internal borders between most EU states and a few outside the Union, like Switzerland.

Airport checks will remain in place until next March. But Switzerland’s large European expatriate community is looking for easier travelling.

“We are Europeans, so we are concerned, and for example in Geneva 10 % of the population is Portuguese. This is an important step for people to move even freer than before,” one Portuguese resident said.

But Switzerland’s membership of Schengen could be shortlived, if it rejects extending the relaxing of passport controls to Bulgaria and Romania – the EU’s two newest members.

The Swiss will vote on the issue in a referendum in February and a negative outcome could lead to their country’s suspension from the Schengen pact.