Malta Schengen membership

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chetcuti | 15 Sep 2015

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Prior to Malta Schengen membership, the Schengen agreement was signed in 1985 and established visa-free travel area known as the "Schengen Area". The Schengen agreement was first signed between Germany, France and the Benelux countries in the small Luxembourg border town of Schengen.

Malta Schengen Membership: the aims of Schengen

The principle aim of this Schengen agreement is to abolish all internal borders while strengthening external borders. Common rules and procedures apply with regard to visas for short stays, asylum requests and border controls. Following the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam, this intergovernmental cooperation was incorporated in the EU framework on the 1st of May 1999, therefore applying to all EU countries, although the UK and Ireland opted to stay out. In accordance with the protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam, Ireland and the United Kingdom can take part in some or all of the Schengen arrangements, if the Schengen Member States and the government representative of the country in question vote unanimously in favour within the Council.

The Schengen area gradually expanded to include nearly every Member State. Italy signed the agreements on 27 November 1990, Spain and Portugal joined on 25 June 1991, Greece followed on 6 November 1992, then Austria on 28 April 1995 and Denmark, Finland and Sweden on 19 December 1996.

Malta Schengen Membership

Malta, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia joined the Schengen Area on the 21st  December 2007 and the associated country Switzerland on 12th  December 2008. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and Romania are not yet fully-fledged members of the Schengen area, meaning that border controls between them and the Schengen area are maintained until the EU Council decides that the conditions for abolishing internal border controls have been met.

Why Schengen?

The key aspects within the Schengen area include the removal of checks on persons at internal borders, enhanced police and judicial cooperation, harmonisation of the conditions of entry and of the rules of visas for short stays and the establishment of the Schengen Information System (SIS). The SIS is an information system which allows national border and judicial control to obtain and share information on persons or objects more easily. At the moment Member States are also working on an improved version of the SIS, that is the SIS II.

Schengen Membership for Malta

Entry into the Schengen area will mean that all those leaving Malta, including non-Maltese citizens, to another Schengen member country will no longer be subjected to passport control in that country. Visas for entry in Malta are also a valid permit for entry into the EU.

On the basis of the Schengen Convention, a valid residence permit from a Schengen State, together with a travel document, can substitute for a visa.  Thus a third-country national presenting his or her passport and a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen Member State can be allowed to enter another Schengen Member State for a 90 days stay in 180 days without needing a visa. This equivalence does not apply to residence permits issued by the United Kingdom and Ireland, since they do not apply the Schengen acquis.

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Key Contacts

Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti

Senior Partner, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056111

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122

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