The European Union has approved the gradual entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Area of ​​free movement

A Romanian border officer stands at the border railway crossing between Romania and Moldova (AP)

On Saturday, the European Union countries agreed unanimousGradual entry Romania and Bulgaria in Schengen Free Movement Area After Austria, the last of the twenty-seven countries to oppose the measure, lifted its veto.

The decision means, As of March, controls on internal air and sea borders with these two countries will be abolished – which joined the European Union in 2007 – with commitment, in addition to Austria, Bulgaria and Romania Later agree on the end date for ground observationsAccording to the current Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

European Council President Charles Michel said on his personal page on the social networking site

Michel noted that this is “a long-awaited step for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to enjoy easier freedom of movement, with the possibility of road transportation in the future.”

“Today is a historic moment for Bulgaria and Romania. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared, in a statement, “a day of great pride for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens,” and praised the “hard work, commitment and perseverance” of the two countries.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel (Reuters)

European Parliament President Roberta Mizzola said on Channel X that the decision “has been a long time coming” but “makes our union stronger and our people safer.”

Sources in the Spanish Ministry of the Interior described the agreement as “historic” and confirmed that it is one of the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which concludes its work tomorrow.

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They also stated that the gradual lifting of controls on the internal borders of Bulgaria and Romania will “strengthen and expand” the European free movement zone and It will facilitate the movement of millions of people, with a “very positive social and economic impact across the region.”

The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, indicated that this “historic decision” of the Council “comes after… 13 years of siege “It is the result of political commitment and determination,” and he expressed his hope “that next year the Council will be in a position to equally take a decision on the abolition of land border controls.”

Despite the fact that the European Commission and the European Parliament have been ensuring for years that Bulgaria and Romania, EU members since 2007, are ready to enter the Schengen Area, Austria has so far banned her entry.

The Commission first confirmed that both Bulgaria and Romania were willing to join the Schengen Area without internal border controls in 2011, and have since continued to demonstrate that they meet the conditions, as confirmed by three fact-finding missions on the external borders of Bulgaria and Romania in 2011. The European Commission noted that Years 2022 and 2023.

The Commission also launched pilot projects with Romania and Bulgaria last March to strengthen external border management. Strengthening cooperation with neighboring countries and ensuring speedy asylum and return procedures.

A vehicle passes during the opening of the border crossing as Croatia enters the EU's control-free Schengen zone, in Brijana, Croatia, on January 1, 2023. (Reuters/Borut Zivulović)

At the same time, the European Commission made it clear that the Schengen Area is also ready to receive Bulgaria and Romania.

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In the last decade, the European Union has worked to strengthen the architecture that protects space without internal border controls, and a series of measures have been introduced in the field of security and police cooperation.

Discussions will continue on when to potentially abolish checks on people at internal land borders in 2024, and the Council is expected to adopt a decision on this matter within a “reasonable time frame,” according to the Commission, adding that it will continue its support. Economically and through the European External Border Agency Frontex to Bucharest and Sofia.

The Schengen Treaty specifies Lifting border controls between member states, Which currently covers 4.3 million square kilometers and approximately 420 million citizens from 27 European countries (23 EU member states and 4 non-EU countries).

(With information from EFE)

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