Why is Europe called Schengen? Is all of Europe Schengen? What is the difference between the EU and Schengen?

Europe is a diverse continent known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cultures. When it comes to travel, understanding the terminology surrounding the European region can be a bit confusing. Two terms that often come up are “Schengen” and the “European Union (EU).” In this blog post, we will delve into the origins of the term “Schengen,” clarify the scope of the Schengen Area, and explain the difference between the EU and Schengen.


What is Schengen?

The term “Schengen” originated from the Schengen Agreement signed in 1985 in the small town of Schengen, Luxembourg. This agreement aimed to establish a zone of free movement within Europe by eliminating internal border controls. The Schengen Area comprises 27 European countries that have mutually agreed to facilitate the movement of people across their borders without passport checks.

Is all of Europe Schengen?

No, not all of Europe is part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Agreement does not cover the entire continent. Some European countries have chosen not to participate, while others are in the process of joining. It’s important to note that Schengen is primarily an agreement on border control and does not encompass the entirety of European political and economic integration.

Difference between the EU and Schengen

The European Union (EU) and the Schengen Area are two distinct entities, although they overlap to some extent. The EU is a political and economic union of 27 European countries, which promotes cooperation and integration across various areas, including trade, policies, and legislation. While some EU member states are part of the Schengen Area, not all Schengen countries are members of the EU.


The main difference lies in the purpose and scope of these agreements. The EU aims for broader political and economic integration, whereas the Schengen Agreement focuses specifically on free movement and border control. As a result, some non-EU countries, such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, participate in the Schengen Area, while some EU member states, like the United Kingdom and Ireland, have opted out.

Benefits of the Schengen Area

The Schengen Area offers several benefits for travelers and citizens of participating countries. It allows for seamless travel within the zone, as passport checks are not required at internal borders. This enables tourists to explore multiple countries without the hassle of repeated border formalities. Additionally, it facilitates business and cultural exchange, encourages tourism, and enhances economic cooperation among member states.

Understanding the distinction between Schengen and the EU is crucial when planning travel to Europe. While Europe as a whole is not entirely Schengen, the Schengen Area provides substantial convenience for those wishing to explore multiple countries without internal border checks. The EU, on the other hand, represents a broader political and economic integration across member states. By clarifying these terms, you can navigate the European travel landscape more effectively and make informed decisions about your travel plans.

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