9 new EU members will enter the Schengen zone a week before Catholic Christmas, that is, two weeks ahead of the announced deadlines.
According to Rui Pereira, Minister of Internal Affairs of Portugal, currently chairing the EU, all necessary checks and approvals have been completed. Now, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia can abolish border controls at common borders.
Passport control at European airports for citizens of these countries will continue until March 2008. Meanwhile, the agency notes, Cyprus, also a member of the European Union, expressed its intention not to join the Schengen zone for another year.
The Schengen agreement on border controls on internal borders between European countries was signed in 1985. At present, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland have joined the agreement.