EU to Expand Borderless Travel

European Union nations agreed to expand the bloc's borderless-travel zone to the 10 new members that joined the EU in 2004, the AP reports. Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer said the deal foresees a phased-out removal of land-border checks starting Dec. 31, 2007. "This means Europe won't stay divided into two categories," he said. Remaining airport and sea-border checks will be removed by March 2008. The 10 new members have to meet stringent border and customs-security standards before they can join the so-called Schengen visa system. A final evaluation of whether the security standards are met will be made starting mid-2007 by the European Commission. Under the compromise plan, the 10 nations would be temporarily allowed to link into the current visa-data system, which will be adapted to accommodate the new members until the new updated version is launched in June 2008. Malta, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and five other Eastern European nations have applied for full entry into the Schengen zone, while the divided island of Cyprus opted to keep in place some border checks.