In a significant development, citizens of Romania and Bulgaria are set to enjoy hassle-free air and sea travel within the European Union and select neighboring countries starting March 31, 2024. The Council of EU governments announced on Saturday that individuals from these EU member states will no longer require a passport to travel to most other EU nations, as well as Norway and Switzerland.
This decision marks an expansion of the EU's passport-free travel zone, known as the Schengen area, to encompass 25 out of the 27 EU countries. Notably, the Schengen area already includes non-EU members Norway and Switzerland, demonstrating a commitment to fostering seamless travel across borders.
While this passport waiver is a significant step toward facilitating travel for Romanians and Bulgarians, it's important to note that EU members Ireland and Cyprus remain outside the Schengen area. Consequently, citizens of these countries, as well as individuals from other EU nations, will still be required to carry passports when entering Ireland and Cyprus.
While passport checks will persist for land border crossings between Romania, Bulgaria, and their EU neighbors, discussions are underway to explore the possibility of lifting these checks in 2024. The European Commission has affirmed that talks on this matter will continue throughout the year, with a decision expected "within a reasonable time frame."
This move not only streamlines travel processes for citizens of Romania and Bulgaria but also underscores the EU's commitment to fostering closer ties and increased mobility among its member states. The International Trade Council anticipates positive implications for cross-border trade and business interactions as travel barriers are progressively dismantled within the EU and its extended network of friendly nations.