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The Schengen system is based on the Schengen Agreement, signed in June 1985. These agreements allow the free movement of persons and harmonize traveller’s checks within the Schengen area. They are part of the Community law that entered into force with the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999.


The Single European Act (SEA) was signed in Luxembourg, in February 1986. It revised the Treaties of Rome of 1957, deepening the objectives of the European Communities and opening the way for the realization of the common market. In addition, it changed the rules of the functioning of European institutions. One of its goals was to revive European integration after a downturn.


The Schengen Space is an area of free movement of persons between the states who signed the Schengen Agreement. The principal of free movement of persons implies that everyone once entered the territory of one member country can cross the borders of other countries of the European Union (signatories of the Schengen Agreement) without border controls. 22 out of 26 Member States belong to the Schengen Space except United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein are part of the Schengen Space.


The Secretary General is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for a period of 5 years. He has overall responsibility for the strategic direction of the work program and budget of the Council of Europe and controls the day to day organization. In 2009, the Norwegian Thorbjorn Jagland has been appointed as secretary general for a 5 years term.


The SIS is used by some member states of the European Union under the Schengen Convention and the European police cooperation. The various security services can see or record information about people or objects moving from one country to another. The SIS consists of a central system in Strasbourg.