Bulgaria, Romania take first steps into Europe’s vast visa-free zone

Hello and welcome to the details of Bulgaria, Romania take first steps into Europe’s vast visa-free zone and now with the details

Bulgaria, Romania take first steps into Europe’s vast visa-free zone

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Newly installed non-Schengen automatic border control gates are pictured at the Henri Coanda International Airport in Otopeni, Romania March 28, 2024. Romania and Bulgaria will join on Sunday, March 31, 2024 Europe's passport- and visa-free Schengen Area, applying only to travelers arriving by air and sea. — AFP pic

BUCHAREST, March 30 — After 13 years of waiting, Bulgaria and Romania are to partially join the Europe’s vast Schengen area of free movement tomorrow, opening up travel by air and sea without border checks in a “historic” move.

Land border controls will however remain in place due to Austria’s opposition to the eastern European countries becoming full members of the Schengen zone for fear of an influx of asylum seekers.

Despite the partial membership, the lifting of controls at the two countries’ air and sea borders is of significant symbolic value.

Advertisement

Admission to Schengen is an “important milestone” for Bulgaria and Romania, symbolising a “question of dignity, of belonging to the European Union,” according to foreign policy analyst Stefan Popescu.

“Any Romanian who had to walk down a lane separate from other European citizens felt being treated differently,” he told AFP.

Ivan Petrov, a 35-year-old Bulgarian marketing executive who lives in France, said he was enthusiastic about less stressful travelling and the time he would be able to save.

Advertisement

“This is a great success for both countries. And a historic moment for the Schengen area — the largest area of free movement in the world. Together, we are building a stronger, more united Europe for all our citizens,” EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Saturday.

Anton Antonov smiles from the cab of his truck while waiting to enter to the Vidin-Calafat border point between Bulgaria and Romania, near Vidin, Bulgaria on March 24, 2024. — AFP pic

Anton Antonov smiles from the cab of his truck while waiting to enter to the Vidin-Calafat border point between Bulgaria and Romania, near Vidin, Bulgaria on March 24, 2024. — AFP pic

And they were 29

With Bulgaria and Romania joining from Sunday, the Schengen zone will comprise 29 members — 25 of the 27 European Union member states, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

According to the Romanian government, Schengen rules will apply to four sea ports and 17 airports, with the country’s Otopeni airport near the capital Bucharest serving as the biggest hub for Schengen flights.

More staff ranging from border police to immigration officers will be deployed to airports to “support passengers and detect those who want to take advantage to leave Romania illegally,” the government said.

Random checks will also be carried out to catch people with false documents and to combat human trafficking, including of minors.

Bulgaria and Romania both hope to fully integrate into Schengen by the end of the year, but Austria has so far only relented about allowing them to join by air and sea.

Croatia, which joined the EU after Romania and Bulgaria, beat them to becoming Schengen’s 27th member in January 2023.

Created in 1985, more than 400 million people can travel freely inside the Schengen area without internal border controls.

A Romanian worker changes the signs to lead passengers of the non-Schengen flights toward newly installed border control points inside the Henri Coanda International Airport in Otopeni, Romania March 28, 2024. — AFP pic

A Romanian worker changes the signs to lead passengers of the non-Schengen flights toward newly installed border control points inside the Henri Coanda International Airport in Otopeni, Romania March 28, 2024. — AFP pic

‘Irreversible process’

While some have reason to celebrate, truck drivers, faced with endless queues at the borders with their European neighbours, feel left out.

Earlier this month, one of Romania’s main road transporter unions called for “urgent measures” to achieve full Schengen integration as soon as possible, deploring huge financial losses caused by the long waits.

“Romanian hauliers have lost billions of euros every year, just because of long waiting times at borders,” secretary general Radu Dinescu said.

According to the union, truckers usually wait eight to 16 hours at the border with Hungary, and from 20 to 30 hours at the Bulgarian border, with peaks of three days.

Bulgarian businesses have also voiced their anger over the slow progress.

“Only three per cent of Bulgarian goods are transported by air and sea, the remaining 97 per cent by land,” said Vasil Velev, president of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA).

“So we’re at three per cent in Schengen and we don’t know when we’ll be there with the other 97 per cent,” he told AFP.

Bucharest and Sofia have both said that there will be no going back.

“There is no doubt that this process is irreversible,” Romanian Interior Minister Catalin Predoiu said this month, adding it “must be completed by 2024 with the extension to land borders”. — AFP

These were the details of the news Bulgaria, Romania take first steps into Europe’s vast visa-free zone for this day. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information. To follow all our news, you can subscribe to the alerts system or to one of our different systems to provide you with all that is new.

It is also worth noting that the original news has been published and is available at Malay Mail and the editorial team at AlKhaleej Today has confirmed it and it has been modified, and it may have been completely transferred or quoted from it and you can read and follow this news from its main source.

PREV $2.8 billion appeal for three million people in Gaza, West Bank
NEXT Barrage of Russian attacks aims to cut Ukraine's lights

Author Information

I am Joshua Kelly and I focus on breaking news stories and ensuring we (“Al-KhaleejToday.NET”) offer timely reporting on some of the most recent stories released through market wires about “Services” sector. I have formerly spent over 3 years as a trader in U.S. Stock Market and is now semi-stepped down. I work on a full time basis for Al-KhaleejToday.NET specializing in quicker moving active shares with a short term view on investment opportunities and trends. Address: 838 Emily Drive Hampton, SC 29924, USA Phone: (+1) 803-887-5567 Email: [email protected]