On 21st December 2007, Poland became a member of the Schengen area, which resulted in the abolition of border controls with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania. The Polish accession to the Schengen zone has transformed the northeastern and eastern Polish borders with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine into the eastern frontier of the European Union. The Polish accession to this zone also meant the introduction of uniform visa rules for Russia, the same which are used by other countries of the Union thus sealing the Polish border with its eastern neighbours. Therefore, control procedures have been modified and customs inspections have become tougher. It was feared that the introduction of the visa regime would cause a decrease in trade and tourism with the eastern neighbours, hinder contacts between local communities, and – in political terms – would cause the deterioration of relations with Russia. To overcome these problems, the EU has created a special policy on external borders and border regions. According to the EU, borders between countries should not be an obstacle to sustainable development and integration of border areas. The EU policy recognizes that in the border regions, both economic and socio-cultural rights are important factors for applying mitigating solutions or even abolishing the visa regime. In order to accomplish this, the EU has drawn up a local border mobility system, the so-called Local Border Traffic.