The news that the European Union's 26-member border free open travel zone may be on the verge of collapse has dominated the conversation in the 28-nation consortium's recent meetings. But if you're not a European policy watcher, it might not have crossed your ears and eyes this month.
Our broadcast today tried to dig into some of the specifics of the story, but we also thought our listeners might be interested in seeing the full extent of the Schengen Zone, and what that means for travelers and EU residents.
The map above (via WikiCommons) shows the 26 European states which participate in the Schengen Zone. Twenty-two European Union countries — not including Ireland, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania — participate in the zone, and Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden are included in the grand total.
At issue in the current refugee crisis is the Dublin Regulation, which states that individuals seeking refugee status in some, but not all, of the Schengen Zone countries must seek asylum status in the first participating country the individual arrives in. As thousands of refugees surge into Greece, Italy and other eastern European countries headed toward northern countries like Germany and Sweden, the flow of humanity has become at times overwhelming for public officials.
Mild and temporary border controls have been re-instituted around the zone, and as our guests indicated today, could eventually become somewhat permanent.