Having established the European Economic Community in 1957, the objective of the founding members was to establish a common economic area in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured without discrimination on the basis of nationality.

There are no borders within the single market area; all document-based, customs, animal hygiene and other controls are eliminated in this area, which tasks are all allocated to external borders. External borders are defined as overland borders delimiting member states and countries outside the EU, as well as international airports and air terminals. In order to establish the single market, it was necessary to develop a method that prevents the entry of illegal immigrants or criminals into the Community, and therefore, is capable of fighting organised crime and illegal employment.

Consequently, the Benelux countries, France and Germany signed the Schengen Agreement on 14 June 1985, the objective of which was to gradually eliminate customs and border controls along common borders. The Schengen Convention applying the Schengen Agreement was signed on 9 June 1990. The vast majority of European Union member states, as well as two Nordic countries, namely, Norway and Iceland, have since joined the Schengen area.

Hungary began preparations for Schengen membership in 2001 by submitting the action plan regarding preparation to the European Commission. Beyond tasks relating to legal harmonisation, the document set out institution building tasks required for participation. Since we have implemented a substantial part of tasks defined in the first version of the action plan in the meantime, and moreover, the legal framework and institution system has been developing on an on-going basis, the action plan has also been updated accordingly.

The Schengen Action Plan demonstrates that Hungary is prepared for Schengen membership and sets out measures and development operations that must be implemented in the area of border control, visa policy, migration, cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs, fighting drug and arms trafficking, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS), as well as handling personal data.