Bulgaria, Romania could join Schengen in 2010-2011

Bulgaria, Romania could join Schengen in 2010-2011

Bulgaria and Romania could join the Schengen passport-free travel zone in 2010-2011, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin said, as nine European states removed their border checks.

"The realistic date for entering the Schengen Treaty zone is 2010-2011. But that depends on how prepared Romania will be, since it would be odd for Bulgaria to join, but to have a Schengen border with Romania," Kalfin told a press conference here.

Nine, mostly eastern Europe states scrapped their borders with their western neighbours on Friday in a landmark event that effectively tears down the last remnants of the Iron Curtain that once divided east and west Europe.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined 15 nations in the Schengen Treaty, meaning that about 400 million Europeans can now travel from the Arctic Circle in Norway to Portugal without showing a passport, eubusiness reports.

The Schengen newcomers joined the European Union in 2004, while Bulgaria and Romania only joined the bloc in January 2007.

The two countries are gearing up to join the treaty and become the EU's external border. Inspections on how prepared they are will begin in 2008 and last at least two years, Kalfin said.

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