The passport-free regime in Europe known as the Schengen Area is comprised of 26 of the 27 European Union (EU) member states plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. Signed in 1995, the Schengen Agreement was intended to address the problem of enforcing borders between increasingly connected European countries and has expanded to include non-EU member states since then. This paper will lay out the arguments of those in favor of preserving the Schengen Area, who argue that the benefits of solidarity and free movement of people far outweigh the potential risks, as well as the most prominent criticisms of Schengen, including the perceived failures related to the 2015-2016 migration crisis, the 2015 terror attack in Paris, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The succession of different crises faced by the EU in the last few years has highlighted the fact that the Schengen Agreement is a product of a different time, and that it is in need of reforms. Whether the Schengen Area can weather these challenges and adapt will have an impact on the future and functioning of the EU as a whole.

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2021 Charlotte Coon

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