The implementation of the Schengen Agreement begins at airports across seven European Union states.

The Schengen Agreement was enacted on 26 March 1995 by seven members of the European Union (EU).  Ireland was not one of the signatories to the agreement and therefore its citizens remain subject to checks when travelling to other EU countries.

Travellers arriving in Brussels Airport from Tenerife were among the first to benefit from the new regulations.

From today, they don't have to show passports when travelling in certain EU countries.

The agreement to abolish EU border controls was negotiated in the Luxembourg town of Schengen. Seven EU member countries have signed up to the agreement which comes into effect from today. Other members, apart from Ireland and the United Kingdom, will sign up to the agreement shortly.

Irish citizens will not benefit from the changes.

Emmanuel Van Gompel who works at Brussels Airport explains how the new travel arrangements will operate under the agreement for EU members who have not signed up, and non EU members.

The reason why the Irish will be classed as second class Euro citizens is because of our special travel arrangements with Britain.

As long as the UK stays out of the Schengen Agreement, Ireland will too. Otherwise, the UK could demand that Irish citizens produce their passport every time they travelled to Northern Ireland or arrived at Hollyhead or Heathrow.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 26 March 1995. The reporter is Tommie Gorman.