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Bulgaria and Romania partially join the Schengen Area

Bulgaria and Romania partially join the Schengen Area

(CNN) — Bulgaria and Romania partially joined the European Schengen Area on Sunday with the lifting of restrictions on air and sea borders, the European Commission said in a statement.

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

“It is a great success for both countries. And a historic moment for the Schengen Area, the largest free movement zone in the world. Together we are building a stronger and more united Europe for all our citizens,” the president declared. European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

The European Council will decide later this year to abolish land border controls, the Commission said on Sunday.

This announcement comes after the European Council decided last December to expand the Schengen area for borderless travel to include two Eastern European countries by air and sea, after years of negotiations.

“The expansion of the Schengen area will make the European Union stronger as a union, both internally and on the global stage,” the European Commission said in December last year, welcoming the two countries.

The Schengen Area currently allows unrestricted travel across the territories of 26 countries (including 22 countries in the European Union), and includes more than 400 million citizens, making it the largest free movement area in the world, according to the Commission.

The Commission also said that the decision to add Bulgaria and Romania was unanimously approved by the European Council, noting that it had sent several “fact-finding missions” in 2022 and 2023 to the two countries' external borders to confirm their readiness to join the Schengen Area. .

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