Schengen/Dublin – a common border

A border guard checks a Swiss passport and ID card
A border guard checks a Swiss passport and ID card © FDF

Efforts to safeguard internal security and manage migration flows have long extended beyond purely national boundaries. Today, European States need to take a common, coherent approach in such matters. The introduction of Schengen created a joint European area with no internal borders.

Participation in the Dublin System established uniform criteria for examining asylum applications, with each application clearly assigned to just one State. The electronic fingerprint database Eurodac makes it possible to identify persons who make more than one application and to direct them to the country responsible for their case.

The Dublin Area covers all EU Member States. The Schengen Area encompasses most EU Member States, with the exception of the UK and Ireland, which have opted not to implement all Schengen rules. Four other EU States (Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia) are members but do not fully apply the Schengen rules. The "associated States", i.e. Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, are the only non-EU Member States to fully apply the Schengen and Dublin Regulations.

Switzerland has been participating operationally in the Schengen/Dublin system since 12 December 2008. As an associated State, Switzerland is committed to implementing further developments of the Schengen and Dublin legal frameworks. The cooperation between Switzerland and the European countries in the context of the association in Schengen/Dublin brings economic and financial advantages. On top of the economic advantages, Schengen represents a fundamental instrument in the area of domestic security. Dublin allows for substantial savings, as Switzerland is not a typical country of first asylum due to its geographical location.

Switzerland's right to shape EU decisions

In the further development of Schengen/Dublin law, Switzerland has a right to participate in shaping decisions. As part of Switzerland’s right to participate in decision-shaping, the Swiss Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter, Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, regularly takes part in the meetings of the EU justice and home affairs ministers. This body meets to decide – as a rule in parallel with the European Parliament – on the adoption of all new laws. Once a law is adopted, Switzerland then decides autonomously whether or not it will also adopt a corresponding new legal provision. In the event of non-adoption, the EU and Switzerland are required to seek pragmatic solutions. Ultimately, non-adoption of the new legal development could lead to the termination of the agreement.