Vienna, 27 November 2008 Press release

Plassnik: "We are growing ever closer together with our neighbours in the west"

Foreign Minister on the enlargement of the Schengen area to include Switzerland

Vienna, 27 November 2008 – "We are working with our neighbours on the common area of freedom, security and justice – in the interest of our citizens and our common security," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, commenting on today’s decision by the EU ministers of justice and the interior that Switzerland’s accession to the Schengen area will enter into force on 12 December 2008. "This not only makes life easier for people living in Vorarlberg and Tyrol; it also creates important incentives for even closer cooperation and pooling of our strengths in areas where this is useful," continued Plassnik.

The EU security network had already become more tightly knit this summer when Switzerland was integrated into the Schengen SIS search system. "Austria will be delighted to see the end of personal border controls on the border to our western neighbour in a few days’ time. The same applies to airports, where checks will no longer be carried out as from the end of March 2009," added the Foreign Minister. "Our dense and multifarious network of traditionally good ties will gain additional quality through freedom of travel. The integration of the non-EU member Switzerland into the Schengen area is another important European milestone. Border checks are a thing of the past, but security remains. Liechtenstein is to become a Schengen country next year. In this way our neighbourhood in the west is growing ever closer. Security in Austria is now simply inconceivable without our European partners. It is here in particular that the hands-on Europe becomes evident, the Europe that brings tangible benefits to all citizens," concluded Plassnik.

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