Bulgaria and Romania are set to join the Schengen zone, the world’s most extensive free movement area. By March 2024, air and sea border controls will cease, with land border policy decisions forthcoming later in the year. This integration facilitates the free movement of individuals and businesses via air and sea into and out of these countries.
The EU Commission recognized Bulgaria and Romania’s readiness for Schengen membership back in 2011. Consistent efforts by these countries to meet Schengen criteria have been acknowledged, with expert confirmations in 2022 and 2023. They have implemented security, policing, and judicial collaborations to bolster EU’s resilience against security risks. This expansion, the ninth of its kind, promises to enhance travel, commerce, and tourism, thereby strengthening the EU’s internal market.
The Schengen area offers free movement to nearly 450 million EU citizens, including non-EU residents in or visiting the EU. EU citizens enjoy the liberty to travel, work, and live in any EU nation without specific formalities. The Schengen agreement is fundamental to this freedom, allowing unrestricted movement within its boundaries without border checks.
Bulgaria and Romania Schengen area
The main aspects of the Schengen Area are:
Free Movement: Citizens of member countries can travel freely without the need for passports or border checks between Schengen Area countries.
Common Visa Policy: For non-citizens, a common visa policy is established. This means a Schengen visa allows visitors to access any country within the area.
Police and Judicial Cooperation: Schengen Area countries cooperate closely in police and judicial matters to combat cross-border crime.
Protection of External Borders: While internal borders are open, the external borders of the Schengen Area are jointly protected. This means stricter controls for those entering the Schengen Area from non-Schengen countries.