Swiss border guards at the airport.
The Schengen Association Agreement facilitates travel between Switzerland and the EU. © FOCBS

The Schengen/Dublin cooperation facilitates close cooperation between the EU Member States and the associated States in border, justice, police, visa and asylum-related matters. Under Schengen, the participating states have in principle removed checks on persons at internal borders and adopted compensatory measures to strengthen internal security. Dublin cooperation ensures that each asylum application is examined by only one State. 

The cooperation between European states in the fields of borders, justice, police and visas – known as Schengen – was initiated in 1985 by five Member States of the then European Community. It now includes almost all EU Member States and the four associated states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and, since 12 December 2008, Switzerland. 

Maps: Schengen/Dublin

The Schengen Association Agreement (SAA) facilitates travel between Switzerland and the EU Member States by removing, in principle, checks on persons at internal borders. It also improves international cooperation in police and judicial matters in the fight against crime.

Legally linked to the SAA, the Dublin Association Agreement ensures that an asylum application is examined by only one state within the Dublin area. The Dublin criteria establish which country is responsible for dealing with an asylum application. This prevents asylum seekers from submitting an application for asylum in more than one state.


  • 12.12.2008: Operational entry into force Schengen (at airports on 29.03.2009)
  • 01.03.2008: Formal entry into force of Schengen and Dublin
  • 05.06.2005: Approval by the Swiss electorate (54.6% in favour)
  • 26.10.2004: Signing of the agreements (as part of Bilaterals II)

Swiss involvement in developments in Schengen acquis

Switzerland can participate in shaping legal developments in the Schengen acquis and represent its interests directly in the discussions among experts and at ambassadorial or ministerial-level meetings. Switzerland has a decision-shaping role, which is significant as decisions are generally taken without a vote.

After the EU adopts a new legal act of relevance to the Schengen/Dublin acquis, Switzerland must decide, in accordance with its parliamentary and direct democratic processes, whether it wishes to accept it. Since the signing of the agreements in 2004, the EU has notified Switzerland of more than 380 developments in the Schengen/Dublin acquis. In the majority of cases, the content is of a technical nature or limited in scope and the Federal Council can either give its approval directly or simply take note of the new development. The Swiss parliament has only had to approve the adoption of around 12% of the legal developments. The developments subject to parliamentary approval are also subject to an optional referendum (in accordance with Art. 141 of the Federal Constitution). The following new developments are currently going through the parliamentary approval process: