The European Union and the Schengen Area represent two entirely different concepts within the same continent.

ETIAS (The European Travel Information and Authorization) will require visitors to the Schengen Area to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization before they can enter. ETIAS for Europe will come into force in 2021. It was designed by the European Union (EU) to strengthen border control and security around the Schengen Area.

With the implementation of ETIAS approaching there is understandably a lot of confusion around what people will have to do to before visiting Europe. Part of this confusion results from a misunderstanding about which countries are in the Schengen area, which are the ETIAS countries, and which countries are in the EU.

In 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU. Brexit has left people with even more questions about how traveling to Europe will work in the future.

What is the the European Union?

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union consisting of 28 member states. It was originally established to promote peace on the continent but has grown in importance since being established.

EU countries have autonomy over many aspects of their policy making, including foreign policy, but are bound to the judicial and legislative institutions of the EU.

The single market, a singular internal market between the member states, allows for the free movement of people, goods, services, and money. EU citizens have the absolute freedom to study, work, live and retire in any European Union country.

However, these rights do not apply to citizens from non-EU countries. Visitors to the EU can travel freely between countries in the Schengen Area, after entering one of them, but not all EU countries are in the Schengen Area.

What are the Schengen Area Countries?

Schengen countries are those European countries which have signed the Schengen Agreement. These countries operate with no internal border controls, allowing for free movement between the participating countries.

There are currently 26 Schengen member states. The majority of them are countries which are in the European Union (EU). However, two EU countries, the UK and Ireland decided to opt out of Schengen.

There are also four countries which are in the Schengen Area but are not EU member states: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechenstein. Three microstates are also included in the Schengen Area: Monaco, Vatican City, and San Marino.

What’s the difference between the EU and the Schengen Area?

In short, they are too different entities although many countries are included in both. The EU is a political and economic union, whereas the Schengen Area allows for the free movement of people between the participating countries.

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states.The EU has developed an internal tariff-free single market and ensures the free movement of all EU citizens between the 28 countries.

Though each member state has its own government there are shared laws which cover a range of areas including trade, agriculture, and regional development.

The original six members (Belgium, France, Italy, and Luxembourg) joined together in the 1950s with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1951) and the Treaty of Rome (1957). They came to be known as ‘the European Community’.

The community expanded over the subsequent decades to include the other 22 members and it came to be called the European Union.

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is an zone made up of 26 European states which have officially abolished passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders. For visitors to the EU it effectively means that the Schengen Area acts as a singular country, i.e. once you enter one Schengen country you have entered them all.

Are the EU countries and the Schengen countries the same?

No, there are non-EU countries which are in the Schengen Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City).

There are also countries which are a part of the EU, which have opted out of the Schengen Agreement, these being the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

How does this affect ETIAS?

The ETIAS travel authorization grants access to all countries included in the Schengen agreement, i.e. the ETIAS countries and the Schengen countries are the same, an ETIAS permit is effectively a Schengen visa.

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