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The long process of getting Switzerland into Schengen has taken an important step forward, on 28 January, following a formal endorsement by the Council of Ministers.

The international agreement, allowing the country to formally associate to Schengen, was signed back in October 2004. Its adoption process was delayed, however, by the need for national ratifications, as well as a Swiss referendum on the issue, held in June 2005. The Council's endorsement of it will now be notified to the Swiss government, and is then expected to enter into force on 1 March. The Swiss completed their side of the ratification process in March 2006.

The next major step, after the entry into force, will be for the Council to organise evaluation visits to Switzerland in order to assess the country's implementation of the Schengen acquis, including the Schengen Information System (SIS). It is planned that, regarding SIS, the Swiss will follow the course taken by the nine member states that...

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