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Partial extensions to third countries

In this article Christa Tobler outlines the EU’s decision to make the inclusion of certain countries into the Dublin and Schengen systems possible.

At some point, the Member States realised that it would be beneficial to extend the Schengen and Dublin systems to certain other countries in Europe in order to reach a common approach at least to some degree. Today, both the Schengen Borders Code (SBC) and the Dublin III Regulation refer to certain non-Member States that are ‘associated’ to the system. This concerns the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

For those among you who are familiar with European Union (EU) law, it should be added that this is not an association within the meaning of Art. 217 TFEU. Indeed, this latter provision is not the legal basis of the Union’s decision on the Schengen and Dublin Association Agreements with the EFTA States.

In our course, we will put a particular focus on the Schengen and Dublin Association Agreements concluded between the EU and Switzerland. Note that these agreements also cover Liechtenstein. This was achieved through particular protocols attached to the agreements [1].

Note also that there is a legal link between the Swiss–EU Schengen and Dublin Association Agreements, as they provide that neither of them can be applied without the other. In Switzerland, the Federal Government shares the conviction of the EU that the challenges posed by the refugee crisis are better faced together than based on many different and individual approaches. The Government also believes in the positive effects of a participation in the Schengen system. However, certain circles are very critical of open borders and demand a cancellation of the Schengen Association Agreement. In practice, such a cancellation would mean that the Dublin Agreement would be lost as well in so far as it could no longer be applied. Also, through a cancellation of the Schengen Agreement, Switzerland would cease to be part of the Schengen visa system that is of great importance to its tourism sector. Switzerland is a small country surrounded by European Union/European Economic Area countries. Under the present system, tourists with a Schengen visa can travel without further ado to any EU or EFTA country and, thereby, also to Switzerland. Conversely, they might find it too cumbersome to visit the country if they were obliged to organise an extra visa and pay for it in addition to a Schengen visa.


[1] See OJ 2011 L 160/3 and OJ 2011 L 160/139, respectively.

© University of Basel
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