The abolishment of border controls between Romania and Bulgaria has been supported by the National Association of Romanian Travel Agencies (ANAT) and the Federation of Romanian Haulers (FORT).
Through a joint statement published on Monday, the two organisations indicate that Bulgaria has ranked for many years among the top three tourist destinations for citizens of Romania.
Before the spread of the Coronavirus in 2019, Bulgaria welcomed a total of 2.1 million visitors from Romania. Besides, based on the figures from ACT Media, from June 1 to July 25, there were registered 800,000 international tourists at Bulgaria’s tourist establishments; of them, 260,000 were citizens of Romania, and the overwhelming majority of them travelled by coaches and cars.
“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.
Noting that the number of Bulgarian and Greek tourists visiting Romania is continuously increasing, the majority of them still come by road.
ANAT Chairman Dumitru Luca has proposed to lift the “useless” border, thus proving that they are fully prepared to become part of the Schengen Zone.
Luca said that Europe does not want Romania and Bulgaria as part of the mobility without restriction area. He stressed that under various pretexts, for at least ten years, Romania and Bulgaria have been denied access 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 SchengenVisaInfo.com 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.