Basic information on the preparations
The integration of the Czech Republic to the Schengen area has been one of the priorities of the Government of the Czech Republic. This approach is not only related to the political impact of the abolition of border checks, but it is necessary also with a view to the - in the history of the independent Czech Republic so far unprecedented - international responsibility. Failure to satisfy the Schengen standards could have significantly complicated, and even delayed the integration of several other countries.
The accession to the Schengen area on 21 December 2007 has crowned ten years of intensive preparations, during which the Czech Republic, with a substantial financial support of the EU, has been harmonizing the activities of its authorities responsible for internal security with those of the authorities of experienced Schengen countries. The Czech Republic proved the quality of the implemented Schengen standards in the majority of the evaluated areas.
The emphasis on achieving the integration to the Schengen area in the shortest time possible was also reflected in the Schengen strategy approved by the Czech government in 2003 and confirmed in February 2007 by the adoption of the Government Strategy for the integration to the Schengen Area for 2007 (in Czech only). In comparison with the 2003 version, the 2007 strategy took account of the up-to-date development in the Schengen enlargement process, and in accordance with the decision of the EU Council of December 2006, it determined 31 December 2007 as the date of the abolition of checks at the internal land borders, and the last day of March 2008 as the latest date for the abolition of checks at international airports.
The Czech government is continuously informed of the process of preparations for the abolition of checks at the internal borders. Since 2001, on an annual basis, it has been discussing and adopting a Report on the preparation of the Czech Republic for the adoption of the Schengen acquis (in Czech only); its last version - the ninth one - was adopted in April 2007.
On 6 December 2007 the EU Council took the final Decision (pdf; 56 kB) about the full implementation of all provisions of the Schengen acquis, i.e. the full integration of the Czech Republic into the Schengen area on 21 December 2007.
Already on 8 November 2007, ministers represented in the EU Council had confirmed the preparedness of 9 states to join Schengen and thus concluded the Schengen evaluation process confirming fulfillment of all conditions for the abolition of border checks.
Already on 12 June 2007, the EU Council adopted the first Decision on which basis the Czech Republic took an important step towards the Schengen membership: due to this decision, the Czech authorities gained access to the data in the Schengen Information System (SIS) as from 1 September 2007. The adoption of this decision had been a necessary precondition for the SIS evaluation, which took place in the second half of September 2007 and was the last stage of the evaluation of the Czech Republic's readiness to fully join the Schengen cooperation.