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7 NATIONS END BORDER CONTROLS AMID DRIVE FOR UNITY IN EUROPE

In a move lauded as a breakthrough in the European Union's drive for unity, border controls between seven EU nations are being abolished today.

Travelers will be able to keep their passports in their pockets when going from any of the seven nations -- France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands -- to another.

Greece, Italy and Austria are expected to join in June. But the move comes five years after it was originally scheduled and on a much smaller scale. Several EU members are unready or unwilling to join borderless Europe.

Britain, ever the halfhearted EU member, has vowed to stay out, and its customs links with Ireland are expected to keep that country out as well.

The three other EU members, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have yet to announce their intentions, but they are expected to abolish the controls, too.

Big airports have had to adapt special terminals to separate the new "internal" European flights from others.

Passengers flying from Hamburg to Paris, for example, will not have their passports checked, whereas those flying from London to Brussels will have to brave long lines for passport controls. So will travelers crossing so-called external borders, such as those between Germany and its neighbors, Poland and the Czech Republic.

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