Bulgaria and Romania partially join Schengen Area

04 Apr 2024

2 min read

Author: Ann Bugeja

The Schengen Agreement was originally signed on the 14th of June 1985 by five of the ten EC member states in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg (hence the name). These five countries were Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

When consensus could not be reached among all EC member states on the abolition of border controls, the Schengen Area was established separately from the EC. 

The 1985 Schengen Agreement was supplemented in 1990 by the Schengen Convention, which proposed the abolition of internal border controls. This led to the creation of the Schengen Area on the 26th of March 1995. In 1995 Portugal and Spain, joined the Schengen Area.

The Schengen Area expanded over the years as follows:

1997: Italy and Austria;

2000: Greece;

2001: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark;

2007: Estonia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, Malta, and Lithuania.

The most recent expansion of the Schengen Area happened in March 2024 with the partial introduction of Bulgaria and Romania. Partial, as their joining Europe’s Schengen Area of free movement is limited to travelling freely by air and sea, and excludes land. This resulted from the veto by Austria, due to Austria’s belief that opening the land route to these two countries would result in uncontrollable asylum seekers travelling into Europe. 

The admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Area comes after a thirteen-year wait. The Schengen Area now comprises of 29 members, 25 of the 27 European Union member states as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.