It was with mixed emotions that I came across the recent news that nine more countries are being allowed into the European Union’s border-free Schengen zone.
The Schengen zone is an area within the EU where passports are no longer required to travel between countries. Once a visitor has passed through the first layer of security entering the Schengen, he or she is free to travel onwards without having to pull out their passport until they leave–it’s sort of like traveling between states within the USA.
On December 21, the Schengen will expand to include Malta, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Most of these countries were once locked behind the Iron Curtain and protected by some of the most heavily guarded borders in the world. Before the end of the year, their citizens–and all international tourists–will be able to travel overland from places like Prague to Madrid without passing through passport controls a single time.
So why do I have mixed emotions about this?
No more passport stamps to collect, obviously.