Bulgaria and Romania, first entry into the Schengen area. But it’s not valid by land. Disappointed businesses

Bulgaria and Romania, first entry into the Schengen area.  But it’s not valid by land.  Disappointed businesses

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ROME – Bulgaria and Romania join the vast European Schengen free movement area. Travel by air and sea will be free of border controls after a 13 year wait.

A veto by Austria, however, means the new status will not apply to land routes. Vienna fears a potential influx of asylum seekers.

While some have reason to celebrate, truckersdealing with endless queues at the borders with their European neighborsthey feel excluded.

THE SCHENGEN AREA

Thirty hours stopped

One of Romania’s main road transport unions, UNTRR, calls for “urgent measures” to achieve full Schengen integration, deploring enormous losses.

“We continue to waste billions of euros every year only because of the long waiting times at the borders”, explains Secretary General Radu Dinescu.

According to the union, i Truck drivers usually wait eight to 16 hours at the Hungarian border; and from 20 to 30 hours at the border with Bulgaria, with peaks for three days.

The 29 members

Bulgarian businesses are also angry about the slow progress. “Only 3% of Bulgarian goods are transported by air and seawhile the remaining 97 travel by land”, reveals Vasil Velev, president of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (Bica).

The Romanian government will apply Schengen rules to four seaports and 17 airports (with the Otopeni airport, near the capital Bucharest, which will serve as the main hub for Schengen flights).

So Bucharest

More staff, including border police and immigration officials, will be deployed at airports to “support passengers and identify those who want to take advantage of it to leave Romania illegally“, adds the government.

Random checks will also be carried out to catch people with false documents and fight human trafficking.

With Bulgaria and Romania, the Schengen zone now includes 29 members: 25 of the 27 member states of the European Union, plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Created in 1985, the Schengen area allows to over 425 million people to travel freely without internal border controls.

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