A Eurobarometer report published in December 2018 about the EU’s Schengen Area sheds valuable light on the emotionally charged discussions in the EU about migration and Europe’s internal borders. The pollsters surveyed nearly 28,000 EU citizens in June and July 2018.

Most of the Europeans in the 26 states that comprise the Schengen group say they know that their country is part of the Schengen system, which has officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area of 400 million people (22 EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland) mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. EU and non-EU citizens can travel freely in the area. Late last year, some countries imposed internal border controls, which the agreement says may be done in exceptional circumstances. Internal border checks within the Schengen Area, however, should be of limited periods of time.

According to the poll, two-thirds of those asked say they believe that the Schengen Area is one of the EU’s finest achievements. The same share said that the Schengen system has more advantages than disadvantages for them personally and their families, and even more (three-quarters) said it was good for business. Seven in ten say that Schengen Area contributes to security.

About the EU’s management of its external borders, however, most respondents knew less, and were in favor of “more security” on the external borders: funding for this should be increased, they said, and borders countries helped more to manage EU borders.