EU countries unanimously gave the green light for the gradual entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Shengendi freedom of movement zone. Austria, the last country to oppose the agreement, abolished its veto. The decision implies that from March, internal border controls – but only air and sea – will be abolished with these two countries, which joined the EU in 2007, with Austria, Bulgaria and Romania committing to later agree to the EU's end date. Controls are also at land borders. This came through the current Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The President of the European Council said: “Congratulations to the citizens of Romania and Bulgaria on extending the Schengen Agreement to include sea and air travelers.” Charles Michelthrough his profile on
Sources from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior described the agreement as “historic” – which comes after twelve years of negotiations – and confirmed that it is a priority for the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union, which ends tomorrow. The sources also stressed that the gradual removal of internal border controls in Bulgaria and Romania will “strengthen and expand” the European free movement zone and facilitate the movement of millions of people, with a “very positive social and economic impact throughout the region.”
Today, Austria confirmed the withdrawal of its veto on the agreement announced by Romania on Wednesday and Bulgaria on Thursday. Romanian Prime Minister, Marcel CiolacoHe had confirmed that the agreement would also include sea travel, which the Black Sea port of Constanta would benefit from, and said that he was confident that full membership would be negotiated in 2024.
Although the European Commission and European Parliament have claimed for years that Bulgaria and Romania, EU members since 2007, are ready to join the Schengen Area, Austria has so far blocked their entry.
The treaty stipulates the abolition of border controls between its member states, which currently covers 4.3 million square kilometers and includes 423 million citizens from 27 European countries (23 EU member states and 4 non-member states).
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