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Bulgaria and Romania join EU’s Schengen travel area

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Bulgaria and Romania have become the latest EU nations to join Europe’s Schengen travel area.

The move means that passport checks at the two countries’ air and sea borders have now been lifted for travellers from the other 27 Schengen members. 

Although checks will continue to apply at land borders as part of Bulgaria and Romania’s phased entry into Schengen arrangements.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the move was an “important day” as the two countries join the “Schengen family”.

I welcome the lifting of internal air and sea border checks,” she added. “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.”

Olivier Jankovec, director general of airports’ association ACI Europe, said: “Schengen is part of the fundamental fabric of European air travel, allowing a smoother passenger experience and more efficient operations with faster connecting times and streamlined checks.  

“Facilitating travel for EU citizens in Romania and Bulgaria is an important step forward for Europe. It is about further strengthening integration and driving equality through the fundamental right to free movement. This development will have positive economic and social repercussions for local communities and the wider economy.”

Both countries hope that Schengen arrangements will be extended to their land borders by the end of 2024. The EU Council has yet to set a date for this to happen.

“The commission will continue to provide all necessary support to the presidency of the Council to ensure that a decision on land borders can be taken in 2024,” said the EU in a statement.

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