EU members agree to lift air, maritime internal border controls with Bulgaria, Romania

LONDON, Jan 1: The European Council has agreed to lift air and maritime internal border controls with Bulgaria and Romania, paving the way for the two countries to obtain full access to the Schengen area.

The move comes after European Union (EU) member states unanimously reached an agreement on the matter, Anadolu Agency quoted the European Council as saying in a statement late Saturday.

“From March 31, 2024, there will no longer be checks on persons at EU internal air and maritime borders between Bulgaria and Romania and the other countries in the Schengen area,” it said.

The European Commission welcomed the decision by the Council concerning Romania and Bulgaria, which have been members of the EU since 2007.

Earlier, Austria said that Bulgaria and Romania need to accept refugees from Afghanistan and Syria as a condition for entry into the Schengen Zone.

The Schengen area currently includes 23 of 27 European countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and allows people to travel freely among member countries without going through border controls.