Switzerland is joining Europe’s passport-free travel zone. It has opted for membership of the Schengen zone marking an immediate end to obligatory identity checks at land borders, and the dropping of airport controls from March next year. But if Switzerland votes to deny Romanians and Bulgarians free access to the country in February it could be suspended from Schengen. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but is surrounded by member countries on all sides – except for tiny Lichtenstein.
Alain Brenneisen, a Lieutenant Colonel with Swiss Customs said: “The big changes with Schengen are access to the SIS Schengen Information System database which will allow us to interrogate and share details; joint visa policies which will allow more tourists to come to Switzerland with a Schengen visa, and finally the big change which will be at the airports where Schengen passengers will be divided from non-Schengen passengers from March 29th next year.”
But Swiss customs officers will not be out of work. They will stay at the border posts and can demand spot checks at any time. Five European Union members are not yet in Schengen. They are Britain, Ireland and Cyprus, plus the two newest members, Romania and Bulgaria.