July 17, 2024

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EU partially allows Bulgaria and Romania into Schengen area

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EU governments have agreed to a partial accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the bloc’s border-free Schengen area from March 31 2024, a long-delayed move that had increased tensions among capitals.

“I am very pleased that in 2024 air and maritime . . . controls between Bulgaria and Romania and the other Schengen countries will become a thing of the past, after 12 years of negotiations,” said Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

On March 31, the same day that international summer flight schedules kick in, air travellers to and from Romania and Bulgaria will no longer be required to show their passports and will depart from the same Schengen terminals as other EU countries. The same provision will be valid for passengers on ferries and other boats.

“Our adoption in Schengen for the air and sea borders was a matter of restored trust, a matter of security and a matter of European integration,” said Kiril Petkov, leader of Bulgaria’s ruling pro-European We Continue the Change party. “Europe is giving us credit for all three.”

European Council president Charles Michel said land borders would also be lifted at some point in the future.

“A long-awaited step for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to enjoy easier freedom of movement with the perspective of land transport to come,” Michel wrote on social media platform X.

While airports and seaports are a welcome first step, land borders remain the more substantial decision for a region that has long suffered from extended road and rail border waiting times.

After “years of failures and humiliation . . . the process is now irreversible”, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu posted on Facebook, adding that talks on land borders will continue next year.

Speaking to media on Thursday, Bulgarian…

2023-12-31 06:13:41

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