|Together with Sweden, Finland and Denmark, Iceland and Norway belong to the Nordic passport union, which abolished internal border checks. Sweden, Finland and Denmark became members of the Schengen group when they joined the EU. Iceland and Norway have been associated with the development of the agreements since 19 December 1996. Although they did not have voting rights on the Schengen Executive Committee, they were able to express opinions and formulate proposals.
The present agreement was signed between Iceland, Norway and the EU in order to extend that association. These countries continue to participate in the drafting of new legal instruments building on the Schengen acquis. These acts are adopted by the EU Member States alone, but they apply to Iceland and Norway as well.
In practice, this association takes the form of a Joint Committee as an organisational structure outside the institutional framework of the European Union made up of representatives from the Icelandic and Norwegian Governments and members of the EU Council and the Commission. Procedures for notifying and accepting future measures or acts have been laid down.
An agreement approved by the Council on 28 June 1999 covers relations between Iceland and Norway, on the one hand, and Ireland and the United Kingdom, on the other, in areas of the Schengen acquis applying to Iceland and Norway [OJ L 15 of 20/01/2000]. The European Community also entered into an agreement with Norway and Iceland concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum (Dublin acquis), which is intricately bound up with the Schengen acquis [OJ L 93 of 03/04/2001].
On 1 December 2000 the Council decided that, as from 25 March 2001, the Schengen acquis arrangements would apply to the five countries of the Nordic passport union [OJ L 309 of 09/12/2000]. In addition, the SIS arrangements were put into effect as from 1 January 2000. In order to check whether the SIS functioned and was properly applied, the decision provided for evaluation visits to be carried out in all the Nordic States. Reports on the visits submitted to the Council in March 2001 show that the SIS was being properly applied and that controls at external borders (in ports and airports) met the conditions laid down.