What do Europeans think of the Schengen Area? Results of the Special Eurobarometer on Schengen

December 21, 2018 3:45 pm

The Special Eurobarometer survey was commissioned by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs to assess the awareness, attitudes and opinions of Europeans regarding the Schengen Area. The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed by the EU to its citizens.

It entitles every EU citizen to travel, work and live in any EU country without special formalities. The creation of the Schengen Area embodies concretely this freedom by enabling all persons to cross internal borders (meaning borders between countries of the Schengen Area) without being subjected to border checks.

The Schengen Area therefore guarantees unrestricted travel within a territory of 26 countries, home to more than 400 million citizens.

The survey was carried out in the 28 EU Member States between 23 June and 6 July 2018.  Nearly 30,000 EU citizens from different social and demographic categories were interviewed face to face at home in their native language to get their views on the Schengen area. To this purpose, the questions focused on:

  • General awareness of the Schengen area;
  • Travel patterns inside and outside the Schengen area;
  • Perceptions of the Schengen area;
  • Awareness of and experience with temporary reintroduced internal border control;
  • Awareness of and support for EU external border control initiatives.

Overall, the results show that most EU citizens are aware of the Schengen Area and are appreciative of the advantages it brings: around two thirds agree that the Schengen Area is one of the main achievements of the EU.

There is also a strong consensus that the Schengen Area is good for business in EU countries (75% of respondents). The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is the EU’s most known initiative to protect the external borders: 50% of the respondents that were familiar with such EU initiatives had heard of it.

However, only 26% of respondents indicated to be aware of any EU initiatives to secure its external borders, despite the media attention in recent years.

Lastly, respondents showed a clear support for more EU involvement in helping countries secure EU external borders (80% of respondents) and increase funding to secure EU external borders (72%).

See the full report, its summary and factsheets per Member State.