EU approves Romania and Bulgaria’s entry into the Schengen Zone

Caption: Breaking barriers, forging bonds. Image: Shutterstock/ M-SUR

In a historic move, the European Union (EU) has endorsed the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen border-free zone, a decision that marks a significant milestone in the two countries’ journey towards greater integration within the European community. Following years of perseverance and negotiations, the 27 EU member states have unanimously agreed to welcome Romania and Bulgaria into the zone renowned for its free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.

The Road to Schengen: Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Unity

The announcement signals a momentous occasion for Romania and Bulgaria, who have diligently worked towards fulfilling the criteria for Schengen membership over the past twelve years. With this decision, the Schengen Area expands to include two additional members, bringing the total count to 29, with a population of over 400 million people.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed the decision as a testament to the relentless efforts of Romania and Bulgaria, stating that both countries ‘deserve’ this recognition. She emphasised that their inclusion will not only strengthen the Schengen Area but also underscore the EU’s commitment to fostering unity and cooperation among its member states.

The path to Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria faced obstacles, most notably Austria’s year-long veto, citing concerns over irregular migration. However, after intense negotiations facilitated by the European Commission and the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU, Austria withdrew its opposition, paving the way for a historic agreement.

Phased Integration: What to Expect as Romania and Bulgaria Join Schengen

The phased approach to Romania and Bulgaria’s integration into the Schengen Area will begin in March 2024, initially focusing on lifting controls at air and sea borders. Negotiations will follow regarding the lifting of controls at terrestrial borders, with all parties committed to reaching an agreement by the end of 2024.

Celebrating Inclusivity: Embracing Common Values in the Schengen Area

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson commended the decision and stressed the importance of ensuring free movement across all borders, reaffirming her commitment to supporting the accession process. Despite challenges posed by illegal trafficking activities along their borders, the European Commission has consistently maintained that Romania and Bulgaria meet all the requirements for Schengen membership.

The Schengen Zone, established in 1985 and implemented a decade later, spans 4.3 million square kilometres, comprising hundreds of airports, seaports, and land crossing points. With common rules governing external border controls and cooperation in criminal matters, the Schengen Agreement represents a cornerstone of European integration, fostering closer ties and facilitating seamless travel across participating countries.

Strengthening Bonds: The Implications of Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen Membership

As Romania and Bulgaria prepare to take on this new chapter within the Schengen Zone, their accession not only symbolises a triumph of perseverance. This milestone reminds us to look beyond borders and focus on what brings us together instead of what sets us apart. It’s all about celebrating our similarities and working together, rather than getting caught up in our differences. By embracing inclusivity and teamwork, we’re not just expanding the Schengen Zone, but also building stronger bonds and a more unified community.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!


    • Brian

      31 March 2024 • 15:08

      And, no doubt, will help illegals movements too!

    • Helga Inge

      01 April 2024 • 08:50

      More break-ins heading to an urbanisation near you. Also get squatters insurance while you are at it.

    Comments are closed.