2023. December 31 – 14:56
It was officially announced that air and sea border controls between Romania, Bulgaria and the member states belonging to the Schengen Area will be canceled on 31 March. However, a decision on ending control of the territories will be made at a later date, MTI reported.
“Thanks to you, the Schengen Area will become stronger for the benefit of all EU citizens” – Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, also congratulated the two member states “on the fantastic result, which is due to their hard efforts.” Work, commitment and perseverance.”
Bulgaria and Romania have been trying to join the Schengen Area for years, but their accession was halted for some time due to opposition from Austria. The European Commission decided last November that the two member states met the conditions for accession, but the Council of Interior Ministers of the European Union member states did not approve the two countries’ accession due to the Austrian veto. Among the 27 member states, Austria and the Netherlands voted against the two countries' accession. Only the Netherlands opposed Bulgaria's admission, but the Council voted as a unit to accept both countries.
Austria fears that more illegal immigrants will arrive in the country through Bulgaria and Romania. Admission of new members requires the approval of all member states. In mid-December, Austria indicated that it would waive its veto over air traffic control if Romania and Bulgaria strengthened the protection of the EU's external borders.
At the suggestion of Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner, air travelers from Romania and Bulgaria within the European Union must not present their passports. However, Bulgaria is expected to allow a greater Frontex (EU border protection) presence on its borders, and both countries should strengthen their border protection.
In July, Viktor Tosvaniusson Orban promised that Romania's accession to the Schengen Area would be a priority topic for Hungary's presidency of the European Union starting next July.