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Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen Area from March 31st, 2024

The European Commission has given the green light to the gradual entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area. The entry will take place starting from March 31st 2024, lifting air and maritime border controls.

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Less than a year after Croatia’s entry, which took place on January 1st, 2023, the EU has unanimously approved the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area.  

The abolishment of border controls

Although the two countries joined the EU in 2007, their entry into the Schengen Area had been blocked by the European Commission and the European Parliament. In particular, the most  vigorous opponent was Austria, which protested against the number of undocumented immigrants arriving on its territory.  

The Austrian government accepted the complete entry of the two countries into the European free-movement area, provided that the European Commission strengthens controls at the external borders of the European Union: particularly those between Bulgaria and Turkey.  

Therefore, the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area will be partial, since it will imply the abolition of air and maritime border controls only. Then, the 27 EU Member States will have to take a decision on the date on which to abolish internal land border controls. 

Starting from 1995, the number of signatory States to the Schengen acquis has progressively increased. To this day, it involves 29 States, among which there are four associate States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).  

Regulatory Framework

European Commission's Press Release - December 30th, 2023

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