Bulgaria and Romania Set For Gradual Schengen Accession Via Air and Sea

Bulgaria and Romania Set For Gradual Schengen Accession Via Air and Sea

Bulgaria and Romania are set to kick off a phased admission into the Schengen Zone, marking the turning point in their decade-long quest to join the EU's passport-free travel zone.

The agreement, negotiated by Bucharest, Sofia, and Vienna, establishes a gradual approach for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen Zone via air and sea routes beginning in March 2024. While this is an important step, debates about the eventual inclusion of land borders continue, with further negotiations scheduled for the coming year.

The proposal for an “Air Schengen,” initially introduced by Austria, gained traction as a means to facilitate entry for these Balkan nations. Austria, who greatly opposed Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen accession, proposed conditions connected to strengthening the EU's external frontiers, a demand that resonated with concerns about illegal immigration.

Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu of Romania expressed optimism following the agreement, indicating that he foresees negotiations for land border access concluding in 2024. Echoing this sentiment, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov acknowledged the complexity of the negotiations that culminated in this pivotal decision.

This breakthrough comes after a prolonged period of obstruction by certain EU members, particularly Austria, and the Netherlands, citing apprehensions over irregular migration as grounds for denying Romania and Bulgaria accession to the Schengen Zone.

With the Schengen Area encompassing 27 countries and facilitating free movement for over 400 million individuals, the impending inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania serves as a significant step toward further integration within the EU.

However, while the recent agreement underscores progress, it also reflects ongoing debates within the EU. Austria, in aligning with its stance to fortify external borders, articulated a vision for a “better, not bigger” Schengen Zone, emphasising the need for stringent border controls amid prevailing migration concerns.

In light of these developments, the European Commission has expressed support for the proposal, acknowledging the ongoing deliberations and the need to address Austria's requests.

The phased entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Zone not only symbolises their steadfast commitment to EU integration but also highlights the intricate challenges and negotiations inherent in navigating the diverse interests within the European Union.

As the process moves forward, the next phase of discussions on land border access remains pivotal, signifying a crucial juncture in the aspirations of both countries to fully integrate into the Schengen Zone.

Do you support the idea of Romania and Bulgaria gaining limited access to the Schengen zone? Talk to us in the comment section below. Or if you need more advice on the above, contact us for further travel & immigration advice.

Check out the deals we have found below and tell us your travel plans.

Check out the offers and discounts from:

And because of the pandemic, don’t forget to get your travel insurance, which will cover you for flight disruptions and pandemic related matters.

IaM can help with your visa application to Europe, the United States, the UK & other countries

If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or a visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.

Some of our posts include affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of these products, we might get a small commission. For more information, check out our TOS.


Leave a Reply