Effective today, Bulgaria and Romania, both EU member states, have officially become part of the Schengen cooperation, marking a significant milestone. Consequently, border controls have

been lifted for air and sea travel, although land travel still requires border checks, with plans for their abolition in the near future.

The Schengen agreement, named after a small village in Luxembourg, is renowned for facilitating the free movement of people across its member states, eliminating internal border controls. This development now benefits travelers traversing among 29 countries, encompassing 25 EU member states (excluding Ireland and Cyprus) as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland.

Bulgaria and Romania have long aspired to join the Schengen area, yet concerns from other EU nations, primarily surrounding potential illegal immigration surges, have hindered their accession. Consequently, the new rules initially only pertain to air and sea travel, while land borders will retain their checkpoints. However, it is anticipated that these land border inspections will also be phased out in due course.

The EU Commission has noted the collaborative efforts of Bulgaria and Romania, along with other member states, in enhancing border security and internal safety within the Schengen area. Despite lingering reservations, their consistent commitment to safeguarding EU external borders underscores their eligibility for Schengen integration. Photo by Kaihsu Tai, Wikimedia commons.