The Schengen Agreement, which has been in force since 1985, facilitates travel across the internal borders of Schengen Member States by removing systematic identity checks. To reinforce the internal security of Member states, checks have been tightened up at the external borders of the Schengen Area and cross-border police co-operation has been strengthened.
The main feature of co-operation is the Schengen Information System SIS, a joint database containing information on wanted persons and stolen or missing objects. Switzerland’s central office behind the SIS database is the SIRENE Bureau, which is incorporated into fedpol’s Operations Centre.
On 5 June 2005, the Swiss electorate voted in favour of acceding to the Schengen Association Agreement (SAA). The Agreement came into force on 1 March 2008. Following Switzerland’s link-up with the SIS on 14 August 2008 and the conclusion of the evaluation procedure confirming its adherence to implementation requirements, the Agreement became officially operational on 12 December 2008. In practice this means that identity checks at internal Schengen borders have been lifted. Identity checks at airports were lifted as from 29 March 2009, following the change to flight schedules.