EU: Romania and Bulgaria join Schengen area

The border-free Schengen area in Europe is growing.

EU: Romania and Bulgaria join Schengen area

The border-free Schengen area in Europe is growing. The EU countries agreed on Saturday to expand the area to include Romania and Bulgaria, as the Spanish Presidency announced on the X platform, formerly Twitter. Accordingly, personal controls at the internal air and sea borders should be lifted from the end of March 2024. According to information, a decision will be made later about lifting controls at land borders.

The Schengen area is intended to ensure unrestricted movement of people in Europe. So far, 23 of the 27 EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have belonged to it.

The admission of the two EU countries Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area had so far failed, mainly due to resistance from Austria. The government in Vienna justified the rejection by saying that too many unregistered migrants were arriving. New members can only be accepted unanimously. Romania and Bulgaria had been waiting for the decision since 2011.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007

The EU Commission welcomed the decision of the EU countries. The accession of Romania and Bulgaria will promote travel, trade and tourism and further strengthen the internal market. The president of the Brussels authority, Ursula von der Leyen, said it was an important step forward for both countries and for the Schengen area as a whole. This great achievement is the result of the hard work, commitment and perseverance of both countries.

All EU member states will become full members of the Schengen area as soon as they are ready. This is both a right and an obligation.

Romania and Bulgaria had already joined the EU in 2007. Until September, the judiciary and the rule of law there were under special surveillance by the EU Commission due to rampant corruption and organized crime. Because of these problems, there was no unanimity among the heads of state and government for accession for a long time. In mid-September, the authority officially ended the special surveillance and said Romania and Bulgaria were ready for membership.