Bulgaria and Romania on Track to Join Schengen Zone in October

Bulgaria and Romania may soon become the newest members of the Schengen Zone, as they are expected to be admitted in two phases starting from October. The lifting of border controls at airports and the subsequent elimination of ground controls will facilitate seamless travel and economic integration
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In a significant development, Bulgaria and Romania are poised to become the latest members of the Schengen Zone, according to a recent report by Euractiv.

The European Commission has also urged the Council to allow Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen Zone this year. The Commission’s comments came through the second State of Schengen Report, published on May 16.

The report suggests that both Balkan states will be admitted to the Schengen Zone in two phases, with the process set to commence in October of this year.

Phase 1: Lifting of Border Controls at Airports

Euractiv’s sources reveal that in October, border controls at airports will be lifted, marking a crucial step towards membership. This move is expected to enhance the ease of travel and promote stronger economic ties between the countries.

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Phase 2: Elimination of Ground Controls

From January 2024 onwards, ground controls will no longer be necessary, reports suggested. This final phase will solidify the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the borderless Schengen Area, allowing for seamless movement of people and goods across the region.

Obstacles Overcome

The report highlights that the main hurdle to Bulgaria and Romania’s Schengen membership has been cleared, with the Netherlands, a long-standing veto holder, no longer objecting to their accession. This development paves the way for these countries to join the travel-free zone.

Long-Awaited Membership

Bulgaria and Romania have been eagerly awaiting membership in the Schengen Zone for several years. However, their accession has faced obstacles, primarily due to concerns over illegal migration.

In December of the previous year, while Croatia’s accession was supported by the European Union Interior Ministers, Austria and the Netherlands opposed the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania, citing these migration concerns.

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EU Commission’s Call for Inclusion

In May 2023, the European Commission urged the Council to grant Schengen membership to both Balkan countries within the year. The Commission’s appeal came through the release of the second State of Schengen Report, emphasizing the need to expand the Schengen Area.

Conclusion

The news that Bulgaria and Romania are on track to join the Schengen Zone is a welcome development for both countries and for the European Union as a whole.

The Schengen Zone is a symbol of freedom of movement and cooperation within the EU, and the accession of Bulgaria and Romania would strengthen the zone and make it more inclusive.

(With Inputs from Euractiv)

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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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