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My Schengen


I lived for a few years within the boundaries of the European Union. As an American I was entitled to stay for 90 days, but there was a loophole.

Prior to the elimination of border controls between Schengen states, each country specified how long a visitor could remain. There would be a specified period, then, required to "reset the clock" — time outside of the country before one could visit again.

After the integration of states, a person with access to one could travel between them — or stay within any one — with no record that they had done so. And since there was no mechanism of communication between countries vis-a-vis federalized immigration control, there was no normal way of checking how long a person had been within the newly-unionizing superstate.

At least that's how it worked for me. That's how it worked, traveling (or not) with an American passport as identification. I stayed in the Netherlands and in Spain for extended periods without scrutiny.

Nobody on the Continent knew how long I had been in their country, because they'd eliminated border controls — and nobody knew how long I'd been within the EU, because that part of the agreement hadn't been worked out yet.