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The Long Wait is Over! Bulgaria and Romania have Partially Joined the Schengen States

Written by: Zariel Campanera

Bulgaria and Romania have officially become Schengen members on 31 March 2024, after a 13 year long wait. The two countries are now part of the Schengen free area movement as sea and air border checks have been lifted. 


Panoramic view over the center of Burgas, Bulgaria. Photo: Todor Stoyanov / Alamy Stock Photo / Be&W


For now they are considered as having partially entered the Schengen area as the land borders are still enforced.  This is because of Austria’s veto due to immigration concerns over asylum seekers traveling to Europe. 


Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission had said that “This is a great success for the two countries and a historical moment for the Schengen area”. This move will build a stronger, safe, secure and more united Europe for its citizens. Following the entrance of the two countries to the Schengen area, there will be an increase of border police and immigration officers to be deployed in the land borders to support travelers and do random checks to detect people with false documents.

In order to lessen illegal migrants and deter them, Bulgaria and Romania have now joined a regional police initiative alongside Austria, Greece and Slovakia. 


Steps are in place and the Council is set to make a decision on establishing the date for  lifting the internal land borders of Bulgaria, Romania and other Schengen countries, this 2024.


Kalin Stayanov, Bulgaria’s minister of Interior had said that full accession of Bulgaria to the Schengen states will happen by the end of 2024. The eased regulations are expected to positively impact the tourism sector but members of the European parliament have expressed concerns about the long lines at the EU borders which can directly impact on trade as well as the safety and health of drivers. 


Romania and Bulgaria are the 28th and 29th members of the Schengen states, which was beaten by Croatia who became the 27th member last January 2023 despite joining the EU at a later date.


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