Two countries, Romania and Bulgaria to soon join the European Schengen area. Prior to this, the most recent country that joined the Schengen Area was Croatia.
Two Eastern Europe Countries to Soon Join the Schengen Zone
Romania and Bulgaria to Soon Join the European Schengen Area
This just in, Romania and Bulgaria, the two Eastern European countries that became a part of the European Union in the year 2007 will soon join the European Schengen Area. After decades of trying to become a part of the Schengen Area, Romania and Bulgaria will enter the border free area in stages. The transition will start with air and sea travel on 31st March 2024. How that process goes will determine when Romania and Bulgaria can open their land borders.
Once Romania and Bulgaria join the European Schengen area only two European Union countries, Ireland and Cyprus will be outside of the Schengen zone. Ursula von der Leyen, the resident of the European Commission, regarded the decision “a day of great pride for Bulgaria and Romania” in a post on X. Adding to the statement, Leyen stated:
“decision to remove internal air and sea border controls with Romania and Bulgaria represents a major step forward for them and for the Schengen Area.”
The Schengen Area was created in the year 1995. At the time, it encompassed only 10 countries. Since then, it has grown and now covers a land of 1.5 million square miles and about 420 million people move freely between the 27 countries that are now part of this zone. The terms Schengen Area and the European Union should not be confused with one another, and the former is a travel zone that allows citizens to cross borders without a passport, while the latter term is an economic and political union among countries. Currently the Schengen Area includes the counties of:
- The Czech Republic
- France Germany
- The Netherlands
According to a statement by the Council of the European Union:
“Each day around 3.5 million people cross internal borders for work or study or to visit families and friends, and almost 1.7 million people reside in one Schengen country while working in another.”
Citizens belonging to the countries that come in the zone can sabe time and hassle form passport checks. Moreover, due to the Schengen Zones, travelers from 59 countries outside Europe, including the United Sates can travel without a visa through these Schengen sates for 90 days. However this rule will change a bit in the year 2025, when the European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS will launched. Once the ATIAS will launch the people who wish to travel to the 27 member counties of the Schengen Zone will need to register for an ETIAS authorization, otherwise they will be turned away at the border.
A country must meet a myriad if requirements before it can become eligible for the Schengen Membership. According to the Council of the European Union, the country wishing to become a member must enforce Schengen rules regarding order controls, police cooperation, visa issuance as well as protection of personal data and properly managing external borders. A statement issued by the Council of European Union reads:
“Countries wishing to join the Schengen Area must undergo a series of evaluations to determine whether they fulfill the conditions necessary for the application of the Schengen rules,” Once a member state meets the requirements, “all other members of the Schengen Area have to approve the decision unanimously after consulting the European Parliament.”
Romania and Bulgaria have argued for decades that they have met the requirements, however their previous attempts to join the Schengen Zone failed. One nation that played a major role in blockish Romania and Bulgaria from entering the zone is Austria, that previously citied fears about illegal immigration, but has now softened its stance.
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