Swiss say joining Schengen good for security

Geneva/Brussels - The plan for Switzerland to join Europe's free movement Schengen area would help improve security for the confederation as well as for neighboring states, an official said Thursday.

"We want to improve the security situation in Europe," said Brigitte Hause-Suss, a spokesperson for Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.

By joining Schengen, the Swiss and the other European members, though not Britain and Ireland which remain outside the pact, would share information on terrorism, criminal threats and asylum seekers.

"There will no longer be a black hole in security," Hausse-Suss said from Brussels where the decision to bring Switzerland into the zone was taken at a meeting of the European Union's justice and interior ministers.

Furthermore, for the Swiss and EU public, the move will allow them to travel to each other's countries without having to show a passport. This would likely boost tourism.

Systematic land border controls for people travelling between Switzerland and neighbouring EU countries will be terminated on December 12, when the accession becomes official.

Passengers on flights between Swiss airports and Schengen-zone destinations, however, will continue to have to show their passports until March 29, to allow for airports to implement necessary changes.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, held a referendum in 2005 and voters approved joining the Schengen area. dpa

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