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Brussels approves accords on closer ties

The European Union has given the green light to ratify Swiss participation in the Schengen/ Dublin accords on border controls and asylum.

This content was published on January 28, 2008 - 16:59

The formal approval at EU minister level paves the way for the bilateral agreements to come into force later this year, once legal and other technicalities about Swiss participation in the Schengen Area have been ironed out.

Bern is aiming for November, a date that Brussels feels is feasible.

"We as the European Commission are optimistic that the time frame can be kept," an EU Commission spokesman said on Monday.

The Swiss justice ministry has welcomed the move by Brussels, which will now evaluate if Switzerland is prepared for the step.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, was initially scheduled to join the Schengen zone last year but there were delays in the parliamentary ratification process in a few EU countries.

Swiss voters approved the Schengen treaty in a nationwide vote three years ago. It was ratified on the Swiss side in 2006.

If everything goes according to plan, Switzerland will become part of the passport-free travel zone nearly one year after many eastern European members joined Schengen, including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic states.

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