Bulgaria and Romania Secure Partial Schengen Approval Despite Austrian Resistance

Bulgaria, Romania
#travel #schengen

Despite early opposition from Austria, Bulgaria and Romania have achieved partial approval to join the coveted Schengen Area. Both nations have been under consideration to be part of the Schengen area. The administrations of both nations have eventually declared that their citizens will be able to travel inside the Schengen Zone without a passport or visa as of March 1.

Partial Approval: A Milestone in the Face of Obstacles

Austria, which had previously acted as a barrier to the Schengen Area entry of Romania and Bulgaria, expressed worries regarding illicit immigration. However, Austria and the other two members of the European Union have reached a principled agreement as a result of recent negotiations. 

The first approval, as disclosed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, would only apply to passengers coming by air or sea. Land crossings are contingent on ongoing discussions over the necessity of border checks, he stated.

"Negotiations with Austria will be reinforced by substantial support from the European Commission," Denkov stated. The joint endeavours are intended to strengthen the European Union's external borders with Turkey and Serbia, with an emphasis on lowering the number of undocumented immigrants entering the continent.

A protester holding a placard saying "Romania in Schengen" - Bulgaria and Romania Secure Schengen Approval

A political triumph was achieved when Romania's prime minister, Marcel Ciolacu, announced that his nation had been accepted into the borderless travel area. Ciolacu posted about his excitement on Facebook, saying, "This is something we can all agree on politically! Romanians will be able to benefit from the Schengen Area by air and sea starting in March of next year." 

The judgement entails a significant advancement for Romania, enabling its citizens to enjoy a smooth travel experience inside the Schengen Zone.

A Roadmap for Future Integration

Created in 1985, the Schengen Area included Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein in addition to 23 of the 27 EU members at the outset.

Considering that Austria concurrently approved Croatia's full accession as the newest member of the EU, there were concerns about Austria's veto over the admission of Romania and Bulgaria at the end of 2022. 

According to critics, the far-right Freedom Party's increasing popularity in opinion polls may have contributed to Austria's rejection.

In the upcoming year, efforts to fully integrate Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area will continue, notwithstanding the partial acceptance. 

The process of achieving full membership will continue, according to Ciolacu, even though the lifting of the air and sea boundaries in March 2024 represents a noteworthy achievement. The ability to overcome challenges is indicative of a shared commitment to promoting cooperation and unity within the European Union.


What effects has the partial approval had on visitors from Romania and Bulgaria?

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals can travel to the Schengen Area without a passport or visa as of March, albeit this will only apply to flights and sea trips at first.

What measures are being taken to address concerns about illegal migration as part of the negotiations with Austria?

To safeguard the EU's external borders with Turkey and Serbia, negotiations with Austria are paired with strong backing from the European Commission, with a particular emphasis on lowering the number of undocumented migrants entering the continent.

What challenges did Austria face regarding Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area in comparison to Bulgaria and Romania?

At the end of 2022, Austria granted full membership to Croatia, the newest member of the EU, into the Schengen Area, but at the same time, it blocked the entry of Bulgaria and Romania. The essay doesn't go into detail about the rationale for these divergent choices.


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