On 30 December 2023, the European Council unanimously agreed to accept Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area, the largest free travel zone in the world. Controls at air and sea borders will be lifted in March 2024, and discussions on a further decision to lift controls at land borders will continue in 2024.
This is the ninth enlargement of the Schengen area, and the EU hopes the decision will strengthen the internal market and boost travel, trade and tourism.
The European Commission first confirmed that Bulgaria and Romania were ready to become part of the Schengen area in 2011. Since then, both countries have continued to demonstrate that they meet the requirements of becoming a Schengen member.