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Romania, Bulgaria In Partial Schengen Deal With Austria

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


People hold placards reading (L-R): “Schengen is our right”, “European solidarity: Romania and Bulgaria now in the Schengen zone”, “Romania deserves being a Schengen country”, “Open the doors of Schengen for Romania and Bulgaria!”, “the Schengen-veto is bad for economy” during a protest of the liberal Neos party in front of the Austrian interior Ministry building in Vienna, Austria on December 4, 2023, on the eve of the EU Council of Interior Ministers in Brussels. AFP

 

 

 

Romania and Bulgaria have reached an agreement with Austria to join the European Schengen area of free movement by sea and air in March 2024, the Romanian government said Wednesday.

“After 13 years, Romania is finally going to join Schengen! We have a political agreement on this,” Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu wrote on Facebook.

The Romanian interior ministry said in a statement that a “political agreement” had been reached between the three countries on extending the zone “to the air and sea borders” of Romania and Bulgaria “from March 2024”.

The question of the opening of 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.

It said it was prepared to relax the rules governing air traffic for Bulgaria and Romania if Brussels strengthened the EU’s external borders.

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

Their applications were vetoed by Austria, which has been complaining for years that it has to put up with a disproportionate amount of illegal immigration as a result of poorly protected external Schengen borders.

The Schengen area was created in 1985 and includes 23 of the 27 EU member states as well as their associated neighbours Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.