SCHENGEN, LUXEMBOURG, JUNE 19 -- Five European Community nations signed an accord today under which they will end border checks for their citizens, apply a joint visa and asylum policy and share data on illegal aliens, suspected criminals and missing persons.
The long-awaited accord involving Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and West Germany was hailed as an example for a no-borders pact among all 12 European Community nations.
"Our agreement is a model . . . for the free movement of people in the community," Dutch Deputy Foreign Minister Piet Dankert told reporters on behalf of the signatory nations. Yet he doubted all 12 EC nations were ready to remove their borders after Dec. 31, 1992, under the EC's single-market plan. The 12 EC states have not even found unanimity for an accord on handling of asylum-seekers.
The five-nation pact will be extended to include East Germany after its expected merger with West Germany, making it the first such international treaty.
Negotiations are to open this week with Italy, which wants to join the Schengen accord, named for this village on the Luxembourg-German-French border where it was signed.
The accord, in the works since 1985, must be ratified by the national legislatures to take effect, a process that may take two years.
Under the accord, the five signatory nations will remove internal border checks for their citizens and legal residents and let legally admitted people from outside the five nations move within their boundaries for three months without a visa; apply a joint policy to prevent "asylum shopping," whereby refugees go from one nation to the next to get residency visas; intensify cooperation between police and justice officials and allow police to pursue criminal suspects across national boundaries; simplify extradition procedures and harmonize gun-control legislation; and share information on people who are wanted, missing or considered dangerous.