The Schengen/Dublin cooperation facilitates close cooperation between the EU Member States and the associated States in border, justice, police, visa and asylum-related matters. Under Schengen, the participating states have in principle 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 in the fields of borders, justice, police and visas – known as Schengen – was initiated in 1985 by five Member States of the then European Community. It now includes almost all EU Member States and the four associated states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and, since 12 December 2008, Switzerland.
The Schengen Association Agreement (SAA) facilitates travel between Switzerland and the EU Member States by removing, in principle, checks on persons at internal borders. It also improves international cooperation in police and judicial matters in the fight against crime.
Legally linked to the SAA, the Dublin Association Agreement ensures that an asylum application is examined by only one state within the Dublin area. The Dublin criteria establish which country is responsible for dealing with an asylum application. This prevents asylum seekers from submitting an application for asylum in more than one state.
- 12.12.2008: Operational entry into force Schengen (at 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 participate in shaping legal developments in the Schengen acquis and represent its interests directly in the 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.
After the EU adopts 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 accept it. Since the signing of the agreements in 2004, the EU has notified Switzerland of more than 380 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 12% of the legal developments. The developments subject to parliamentary approval are also subject to an optional referendum (in accordance with Art. 141 of the Federal Constitution). The following new developments are currently going through the parliamentary approval process:
- On 11 August 2021, the Federal Council decided to accept the EU regulation subject to parliamentary approval.
The BMVI fund is a solidarity fund to provide assistance to Schengen States bearing a significant financial burden due to the length of the external land or sea borders they are required to manage, or because of major international airports on their territory. The new fund covers the 2021–27 period and replaces the earlier Internal Security Fund (2014–20), in which Switzerland also took part. Switzerland will also receive funding for national measures from the new fund like other Schengen states. Switzerland will enter into an additional arrangement with the EU to define the actual modalities for its participation. The total EU budget for implementing the new fund is around EUR 6.24 billion.
- On 17 August 2022, the Federal Council decided to accept the EU regulation subject to parliamentary approval.
The correct and uniform application of the Schengen acquis in all participating states is an essential prerequisite for the Schengen area to function well. The Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism (SEMM) is an important instrument for achieving this goal. Regulation (EU) No. 2022/922 replaces the previous legal basis for SEMM and revises its content. The aim is to boost the effectiveness, flexibility and efficiency of the mechanism, which is used to monitor the application of the Schengen acquis, without changing the existing basic principles (peer-to-peer evaluation) or the procedure in general. Still, the regulation does introduce some important changes leading to considerably shorter procedures, greater availability of experts, and better targeted use of unannounced and thematic evaluations. Furthermore, increased political attention to the evaluation mechanism in the Council of the EU should ensure the continued effective functioning of the Schengen area ("Schengen governance").
Economic and financial effects of the Schengen/Dublin association
Federal Council report of 21 February 2018