Friday, 12 December 2008

Today's the day Switzerland joins Schengen

This is the day that Switzerland joins Schengen. This goes some way to explaining a change from green to blue in what our local border guards wear. This detail had been worrying Dr B for some time.
Anyway here is the story from google news even with a nice map if you click here.

One of the quirks of the Schengen agreement is that for the first time in 84 years the Swiss will have to start patrolling their border with Liechtenstein. The tiny principality, wedged between Switzerland and Austria and with a population of only 35,000, is expected to join the borderless zone at the end of 2009.Until then, the 26-mile (41-kilometer) border will be monitored around the clock by closed-circuit television and mobile patrols, an effort that border guard chief Damian Curschellas says is unlikely to net many criminals or illegal immigrants. Because Liechtenstein has no airport, the only way to get there without passing through a Schengen country first would be to parachute out of a plane, said Curschellas good points. The biggest change will be for some non-European nationals living in Switzerland who previously needed a visa to travel to Schengen countries, a requirement that will now be dropped."If you're Bolivian with permanent residency in Switzerland, for example, you can now goto France for up to three months without applying for a visa," said Michel Bachar, spokesman for Geneva's border guard corps.

However there are also bad points for people visiting Switzerland from outside the EU as this report from Trinidad and Tabago makes clear:

Citizens of this country will soon be required to be in possession of visas to visit countries of the Swiss Confederation. The new Swiss visa requirement will take effect tomorrow as a result of Switzerland's association with the Schengen area-which are regions in Europe without systematic border controls. Switzerland will therefore be obligated to adapt its visa requirements to those of the common visa policy for Schengen member states as of December 6.As a consequence, all Trinidad and Tobago nationals and passport holders will require a Schengen visa to enter Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein