Schengen cooperation

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Norway participates in key aspects of EU cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs, of which the Schengen cooperation is the most important.

As a Schengen member state, Norway is part of an internal free-travel area with a common external border. Norway applies the common set of Schengen rules in full. These include rules on police cooperation, legal cooperation on criminal cases, visa rules and rules on checks on persons at the outer borders. Norway participates in the European Borders Agency, Frontex, which aims to coordinate the management of the common external borders.

Norway is involved in the development of the Schengen acquis at all levels of the EU Council decision-making system, and has the right to speak, but not to vote. Those parts of the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings in which Norway and other non-EU states participate are called meetings of the Mixed Committee.

Priority areas

Migration to Europe is a particular issue of common concern. Norway and the EU are working to find common solutions to the challenges created by migration. This also means addressing the underlying causes of migration. Together with the EU, Norway seeks to strengthen cooperation with the countries of origin and transit. The aim is to promote human rights, democracy, peace and economic development in these countries.

Safeguarding internal security and fighting transborder crime is another priority area, though Norway is not part of formal EU cooperation on internal security.

Participation

Other parts of EU justice and home affairs cooperation also have implications for Norway. Therefore, Norway and the EU have entered into cooperation within various areas, including the following: 

  • The Dublin cooperation, which establishes the criteria and mechanisms for determining which state is responsible for examining an asylum application
  • The European Migration Network, which contributes to policy development on migration and asylum
  • The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which aims at enhancing practical cooperation on asylum matters and helping member states fulfil their European and international obligations to give protection to people in need
  • EUROPOL, the European Law Enforcement Organisation, which aims at improving cooperation between the competent authorities in EU member states and their effectiveness in preventing and combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime. Norwegian liaison officers are posted to the organisation’s headquarters in The Hague
  • EUROJUST, a cooperation network set up to encourage and coordinate the investigation and prosecution of serious cross-border crime. Norwegian public prosecutors and police prosecutors work for EUROJUST in The Hague
  • An agreement on mutual legal assistance (exchange of information between law-enforcement and prosecution services)
  • A surrender agreement based on the principles of the European Arrest Warrant*; (Upon entry into force)
  • An agreement on the Prüm Treaty on enhanced police cooperation in order to combat terrorism and international crime
  • Norway has concluded negotiations on association to EU-LISA, the IT agency managing all large scale IT-systems within the justice- and home affairs area

Background

The Schengen cooperation was originally established in 1985 between Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and Germany, creating a free-travel area as well as closer cooperation on transnational crime. Norway had been a member of a similar free-travel area, the Nordic Passport Union, since 1954, but when the Nordic EU members – Denmark, Sweden and Finland – applied to join Schengen, Norway and Iceland also had to enter into an agreement with the Schengen countries to retain free travel. This cooperation agreement was signed on 19 December 1996.

The provisions in the Amsterdam Treaty integrating the Schengen cooperation into the EU meant that a new institutional framework was needed, and a new agreement between Norway, Iceland and the EU had to be concluded. The association agreement was signed on 18 May 1999, and came into effect for Norway in 2001.