Bulgaria and Romania partially join the Schengen Area

(CNN) — Bulgaria and Romania partially joined Europe’s Schengen zone this Sunday with the lifting of air and sea border restrictions, the European Commission said in a statement.

However, according to Reuters, land border controls will remain in place following opposition from Austria, which has expressed concerns about migration.

The President declared, “This is a huge success for both countries. And a historic moment for the Schengen Area, the largest area of ​​free movement in the world. Together we will create a stronger and more united Building Europe.” Ursula von der Leyen, of the European Commission.

The European Council will take a decision on abolishing land border controls later this year, the Commission said this Sunday.

The announcement follows the European Council’s decision in December to expand the Schengen area of ​​border-free travel to include the two Eastern European countries by air and sea after years of negotiations.

The European Commission welcomed the two countries, saying in December last year, “The expanded Schengen area will strengthen the EU as a union internally and on the global stage.”

Currently, the Schengen Area allows unrestricted travel through the territory of 26 countries (22 of which are in the EU) and includes more than 400 million citizens, making it the largest free movement area in the world. According to the commission.

The decision to accede Bulgaria and Romania was unanimously approved by the European Council, the Commission also said, noting that it had conducted a number of “fact checks” on the countries’ external borders in 2022 and 2023 to confirm their willingness to join. “Search missions” were sent. schengen.

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