LISBON - The Schengen border-free zone of the European Union will extend to the Baltic states and six other new EU members from December 21, the Portuguese EU presidency said on Wednesday.
The citizens of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary will no longer have to show passports on internal borders of the Schengen zone from that date, easing travel and speeding up border crossings.
The Schengen space now embraces 13 EU member countries as well as Norway and Iceland. Great Britain and Ireland have not acceded to the Schengen space.
Cyprus, which also acceded to the European Union in 2004, has asked for a year's delay before joining the Schengen zone. The newest EU member states, Romania and Bulgaria, hope to join at some point but still have a lot of work to do to meet the Schengen security measures.