Romania and Bulgaria will join the Schengen area at maritime and air levels

After a long wait and tension, it feels like relief

Romania and Bulgaria will join the Schengen area at maritime and air levels

After a long wait and tension, it feels like relief. Romania announced, Wednesday December 27, that it had reached, along with Bulgaria, an agreement with Austria to integrate the European Schengen free movement area at maritime and air levels in March 2024.

“After 13 years, Romania will finally join Schengen! We have a political agreement on this! », wrote Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu on Facebook on Wednesday, December 27. For its part, the Romanian Interior Ministry said in a statement that a “political agreement” was reached between the three countries on the extension of the zone “to the Romanian and Bulgarian air and maritime borders” from of March 2024.”

The issue of opening land borders has been postponed until discussions to be held next year. Austria, which vetoed the entry of the two countries a year ago, put forward the idea of ​​what it called “Air Schengen” at the beginning of December. She said she was ready for a relaxation of the rules governing air traffic for Bulgaria and Romania, if Brussels strengthened the external borders of the European Union (EU).

Failed at the end of 2022

Romania and Bulgaria, members of the EU since 2007, were excluded at the end of 2022 from this vast area within which more than 400 million people can travel freely without internal border controls.

Their applications were vetoed by Austria, which has complained for years of supporting, in the indifference of Brussels, disproportionate illegal immigration linked to too poorly protected Schengen external borders.

This zone of free movement of people and goods created in 1985 includes 23 of the 27 EU member countries as well as their associated neighbors Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.