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Bulgaria, Romania to join Schengen area on Sun.

BRUSSLES, March 30 (KUNA) -- Bulgaria and Romania will become the newest Schengen members on Sunday, the European Commission announced Saturday. "Tomorrow marks an important day: Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen family. I welcome the lifting of internal air and sea border checks," President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said in a press statement.
"This is a great success for both countries. And a historic moment for the Schengen area - the largest area of free movement in the world. Together, we are building a stronger, more united Europe for all our citizens," she added.
The Commission stated that the Schengen rules will apply in both Member States including on issuing Schengen visas and controls at the internal air and sea borders will be lifted.
It stated that this achievement follows the historic Council decision of December 2023.
The Schengen accession of these two Member States will make the common area more attractive by significantly expanding the world's largest common area without internal border controls, it said.
Since last December, both Member States have taken all necessary measures to ensure a smooth application of the Schengen rules as from 31 March 2024.
The Cooperation Frameworks launched earlier this March by the Commission together with Bulgaria and Romania build on the successful implementation of the pilot projects for fast asylum and return procedures.
With these Cooperation Frameworks, Romania and Bulgaria will further contribute to strengthening the cooperation on border and migration, as well as to the joint European efforts to address EU security at external borders and migratory challenges.
Furthermore, a regional initiative on police cooperation was established between Member States along the Western Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean routes, including Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia.
This will allow to address related challenges jointly and in a sustainable manner, including as regards cross-border crime.
Bulgaria and Romania have continuously demonstrated a high level of commitment in ensuring an adequate protection of the EU external borders and have constantly acted as key contributors to the internal security of the Schengen area, according to the statement. (end) hts.hm