Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margus Tsahkna, recently showed support for Bulgaria’s full membership in the Schengen Zone during a press conference after a meeting with Bulgarian counterpart Mariya Gabriel. Tsahkna emphasized that Tallin also supports the enlargement of NATO and the European Union.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, Mariya Gabriel, reiterated her country’s goal of becoming part of the euro area by January 1, 2025, and emphasized Sofia’s continued efforts to abolish land border controls this year.
On March 31, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen Zone by air and sea, following an agreement with Austria on the “Air Schengen” proposal. The date for land border accession for Sofia and Bucharest will be decided after March 31, 2024, according to the European Union Council.
Despite Austria’s “Air Schengen” proposal, the country’s Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, stressed that Austria continues to maintain its veto on land border accession. He emphasized the need for a step-by-step approach and referenced the overall migration situation as a factor in this decision.
Following the partial accession to the Schengen Zone, both Bulgaria and Romania are expected to start issuing Schengen Type-C visas on April 1, 2024, allowing third-country nationals without an EU passport to consider their time spent in these Balkan countries as time spent in the Schengen Zone.
Overall, the journey to full Schengen Zone membership for Bulgaria and Romania continues to be a topic of discussion and negotiation among European Union member states.
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