Bulgaria, Romania join Schengen Area


Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen area on 31st March, the European Commission (EC) said in a press release.

The Schengen rules will apply in both EU Member States, including the issue of Schengen visas, and air and maritime internal border controls will be lifted.

The Commission welcomes this achievement, which follows the historic Council of the European Union decision of 30 December 2023. "The Schengen accession of these two Member States will make the common area more attractive by significantly expanding the world's largest common area without internal border controls," the press release reads.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed lifting internal air and sea border checks, describing it as a great success for both countries and a historic moment for the Schengen area. "Together, we are building a stronger, more united Europe for all our citizens," she added.

Since December 2023, Bulgaria and Romania have taken all necessary measures to ensure a smooth application of the Schengen rules as of 31 March 2024. The Cooperation Frameworks launched by the Commission together with both Member States earlier this March build on the successful implementation of the pilot projects for fast asylum and return procedures. These Cooperation Frameworks will enable Romania and Bulgaria to further contribute to strengthening the cooperation on border and migration and to the joint European efforts to address EU security at external borders and migratory challenges.

Furthermore, a regional initiative on police cooperation has been established between Member States along the Western Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean routes, including Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Greece, Hungary, and Slovakia. This will allow them to jointly address related challenges, including cross-border crime.

The statement further states, "Bulgaria and Romania have continuously demonstrated a high level of commitment in ensuring adequate protection of the EU external borders and have constantly acted as key contributors to the internal security of the Schengen area."

In relation to both countries' admission to the Schengen area, EC Vice-President for Promoting European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said, "Romania and Bulgaria's accession will make Schengen stronger – fortifying this 'crown jewel' so emblematic of our European way of life, to the benefit of the internal market, our economies and European citizens everywhere. I wholeheartedly congratulate both countries for all the hard work you have done to get here – this is your achievement, and it is not only deserved but overdue. And we will continue to walk every step of the road forward together."

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said, "I am so proud of the work done by so many in both Romania and Bulgaria". She stressed that the next step is lifting checks also at internal land borders, adding that discussion in the Council will continue this year. "And I promise this is the priority for the end of my mandate," Johansson noted.

More from International