Romanian Travel Agents Support Abolishment of Border Controls Between Romania & Bulgaria

September 06, 2023
Romanian-Flags The National Association of Romanian Travel Agencies (ANAT) and the Federation of Romanian Haulers (FORT) both advocate the removal of border restrictions between Romania and Bulgaria. The two organisations claim in a joint statement released on Monday that Bulgaria has consistently rated among the top three tourism destinations for Romanian nationals. Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2019, Bulgaria had received 2.1 million visitors from Romania. In addition, according to data from ACT Media, there were 800,000 international visitors registered at Bulgaria's tourist attractions between June 1 and July 25. Of these, 260,000 were Romanian residents, and the vast majority of them travelled by buses and vehicles. “If we add about other hundreds of thousands of Romanians who transit through Bulgaria annually to the other destinations in the top three ranking – Greece and Turkey – if we also add the hundreds of freight trains, lorries queuing for miles in both directions we have every reason to say that the ‘Friendship Bridge’ and the area around it is the disgrace of united Europe, the place where no one wants to be, but that you cannot avoid being at least twice a year,” leaders from ANAT and FORT said. Despite the fact that the number of Bulgarian and Greek visitors to Romania is constantly rising, the bulk of them continue to travel by car. The "useless" border would be removed, as suggested by ANAT Chairman Dumitru Luca, demonstrating their readiness to join the Schengen Area. According to Luca, Europe opposes the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the zone of unrestricted mobility. He emphasised that for at least 10 years, under various justifications, Romania and Bulgaria had been refused entry to the EU's passport-free zone. “But… what prevents us from making a local ‘Schengenevescu,’ abolishing the useless border between us and thus proving that we are fully prepared to enter their Schengen?” Luca said. Mentioning unlawful migration concerns, authorities in Austria and the Netherlands blocked the accession of both Balkan countries to the Schengen Area in December last year. Furthermore, Austria’s Ministry of the Interior recently told that Vienna continues to have the same opinion when it comes to this issue. The same stressed that as long as the system “Schengen” does not work, there is no point in expanding it. In July this year, the European Union’s Parliament urged the EU Council to permit Bulgaria and Romania to become the newest members of the visa-free zone by the end of this year.

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