Although not a member of the EU, Switzerland, because of its position at the heart of Europe, maintains strong economic and social relations with many Schengen states and is part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein (other third countries within the Schengen area). Switzerland became an integral part of the Schengen area after signing the agreement on 26 October 2004 and beginning to implement it on 12 December 2008. Now that the Schengen Agreement is part of the Community acquis, it has lost to the EU Member States the status of a treaty which could only be amended in accordance with its terms. Instead, changes are made in accordance with the EU`s legislative procedure under the EU treaties.  Ratification by the former signatory states is not necessary to amend or repeal all or part of the previous Schengen acquis.  Acts setting out the conditions for accession to the Schengen area are now adopted by a majority of the EU`s legislative bodies. The new EU Member States do not sign the Schengen Agreement as such, but are required to implement the Schengen rules within the framework of existing EU legislation, which any new entrant must accept. [Citation required] With the entry into force on 1 May 1999 of the Schengen Protocol of the Treaty of Amsterdam of 2 October 1997, Schengen cooperation was transposed into EU law, initially solely on the basis of an international agreement. Relations between Iceland and Norway, on the one hand, and Ireland and the United Kingdom, on the other, in the areas of the Schengen acquis applicable to Iceland and Norway are governed by an agreement approved by the Council of the European Union on 28 June 1999. The agreement removed the common border controls of signatories within the zone, allowing individuals to travel freely within the zone. It gives residents of border areas the freedom to cross the borders of fixed checkpoints and has harmonized visa policy, meaning you can get a Schengen visa for short stays of less than 90 days. Under the Schengen Agreement, travel from one country to another within the Schengen area is done without border controls. The Schengen visa even allows you to visit all the countries of the Schengen area and cross internal borders without further formalities.
Originally, the Schengen treaties and the rules adopted between them were officially independent of the EEC and its successor, the European Union (EU). In 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated them into EU law, which codified Schengen into EU law and also introduced opt-outs for Ireland and the Kingdom, the latter having taken place since its withdrawal from the EU. EU Member States that do not yet have an opt-out and have not yet joined the Schengen area are legally obliged to do so if they meet the technical requirements. Although it is linked to EU legislation, several third countries are present in this region after signing the agreement. Differences of opinion between Member States led to a deadlock in the abolition of border controls within the Community, but in 1985 five of the ten Member States at the time – Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany – signed an agreement on the phasing out of border controls. The agreement was signed on the princess Marie-Astrid boat in Moselle, near the city of Schengen, where the territories of France, Germany and Luxembourg meet. Three of the signatories, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, had already abolished common border controls under the Benelux Economic Union. [Citation required] This means that Schengen Member States that were not part of the EU have few formally binding options to influence the development and development of Schengen rules; their options are effectively reduced to approval or exit from the agreement.