Romanians and Bulgarians cannot travel to Schengen by car

Romania and Bulgaria have reached an agreement with Austria to partially join the European Schengen area in March 2024, for the time being only for passenger transport by sea and air. Additional agreements are required for Bulgarians and Romanians who want to travel overland via border crossings to the EU countries.

Austria was the last Schengen country to still have objections, after the Netherlands dropped its opposition to Bulgaria's admission last week.

The question of opening the country's borders has been postponed until next year. Austria, which vetoed both countries' accession a year ago, floated the idea of what it called "Air Schengen" in early December. Vienna said it was prepared to relax air traffic rules for Bulgaria and Romania if Brussels strengthened the external borders of the EU. 

Romania and Bulgaria, both members of the EU since 2007, were expelled at the end of 2022 from the vast Schengen zone within which more than 400 million people can travel freely without internal border controls. Their applications were rejected by Austria, which has complained for years about illegal immigration due to the poorly protected Schengen external borders.

The Schengen Area was created in 1985 and includes 23 of the 27 EU member states and their neighbors Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.