Bulgaria and Romania entered Schengen

Bulgaria and Romania have now partially entered the Schengen area of Europe’s passport-free movement by air and sea.

As a result, passport checkpoints have been removed for passengers coming and going from EU countries at the airports of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and Bucharest, the capital of Romania, since Sunday.

Last year, Bulgaria and Romania reached an agreement to join this free travel zone in Europe by land and sea. The agreement was reached after Austria objected to the two countries becoming full members of the Schengen area, including land crossings.

Austria opposed it, fearing more illegal immigrants could enter. Romania and Bulgaria should do more to prevent illegal immigration, they said. However, Austria later agreed to allow these two Balkan states to enter Schengen.

Mincho Yurukov, who landed in Sofia, Bulgaria, from Berlin, Germany, said, ‘This is a great achievement for Bulgaria. It makes many things easier for us as citizens of Bulgaria. Besides, now we feel European too. This is important. The flight was better. There was no passport checking either.’

“Bulgaria will become a full member of the Schengen area by the end of this year,” Kalin Styanov, the outgoing Bulgarian interior minister, told reporters on Sunday. And then people and goods can be transported on roads and railways without any passport checking.

The Prime Minister of Romania also expressed hope that the negotiations on joining the Schengen area by land will be completed this year.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement, “We welcome the lifting of border checks on air and sea routes.”

It is a great success for both countries. Together, we are building a stronger and more united Europe for all our citizens.’

400 million people can travel freely in the Schengen area. Romania and Bulgaria had been trying to enter the region for more than 10 years.

Bulgaria and Romania have also joined the regional police initiative formed by Austria, Greece, and Slovakia to stop the influx of migrants.

Last month, the EU’s border agency, Frontex, said it would triple the number of officers in Bulgaria to prevent people from entering the EU from Turkey.