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Romania and Bulgaria are on their way to the Schengen area

Published on 2023-12-30 23.19

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.  Archive photo.

Late on Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the decision that means Romania and Bulgaria are gradually moving closer to Schengen cooperation with open borders.

After lengthy negotiations in the European Council, it was possible to agree to partially lift controls on land and sea borders, starting from March next year.

Talks on further easing and eliminating border controls are scheduled to continue in 2024.

“Today is a historic moment for Bulgaria and Romania,” von der Leyen said when announcing the agreement.

The President of the European Commission continued, according to a written statement, “This is a big step for both countries and the Schengen area as a whole.”

Both Bulgaria and Romania are members of the European Union, but with Cyprus and Ireland they are the only two EU member states that are not part of the Schengen Cooperation. This means that they must have border controls against other member states and that Romanians and Bulgarians cannot travel unhindered within the Union.

Until the end, there was doubt that a settlement would be reached. Austria was mainly against the decision, pointing out, among other things, that EU controls on external borders were weak.

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