Europe's newest members could join the 'Schengen' no-borders zone as early as December 2007.
The European Union's newest member states are set to join the Schengen no borders zone between December 2007 and March 2008, according to a timetable adopted by EU interior ministers on Tuesday.
Land and maritime borders will be lifted from December next year while those at airports must be closed by March 30, 2008 at the latest.
Currently 15 countries are signed up to the Schengen Treaty -- all the oldest EU members except Britain and Ireland, plus non-EU nations Norway and Iceland.
The new countries to join will include nine of the 10 countries which entered the EU in 2004 -- Cyprus will not take part for now -- plus Switzerland, which is surrounded by EU countries but is not a member.
The move will only take place however if the countries' external borders to the world outside the EU prove to be secure enough and when Europe's Schengen data base is expanded to accomodate them.
EU members will also have to take the formal decision to lift the borders, a move expected in the third quarter of 2007.
Date created : 2006-12-01