The National Union of Romanian Hauliers (UNTRR) welcomes the political agreement reached regarding the enlargement of the Schengen Area with Romania and Bulgaria’s air and sea borders starting from March 2024, but calls on Romanian and European authorities to also establish a clear date for the enforcement of the Schengen visa-free rules for land borders as well, starting in 2024.
“Schengen accession is an important and much-awaited step by Romanian passengers and transport operators, which should have been achieved as early as in 2011, when the European institutions found that Romania meets all the technical requirements for admission. Given that all passenger data are at the disposal of air transport operators, the enlargement of the Schengen Area with Romania’s air borders could have been accomplished a long time ago. There is obviously no justification of a technical nature for the delay, the reasons are political, the members of the EU club have chosen to punish Romania and Bulgaria and reduce their competitiveness all this time, curbing their development potential. Yet now, Romania’s joining the Schengen with the land borders is an emergency for road freight carriers whose efficiency is currently severely penalized through the extremely long waiting times (about 30 – 36 hours daily between Romania and Bulgaria) and for coach operators, in order to avoid the significant administrative burden arising from the new obligations of verifying passenger data in the European EES and ETIAS travel registration and authorization systems starting from next year,” UNTRR secretary general Radu Dinescu said, as cited in a release of the organization.
According to a report conducted by UNTRR this year on the impact on road freight of Romania being kept out of Schengen, the industry incurred losses of 2.41 billion euros.
“We request the urgent setting of a definite date for Romania’s Schengen entry with land borders too, and if there are certain special requirements, they should be clearly mentioned in order to have a precise reference regarding the accession calendar and the goals to be achieved. The criteria the other members of the EU club want Romania and Bulgaria to fulfill must not exceed the general framework and the technical requirements for admission,” said Dinescu.
UNTRR representatives point out that the road transport industry, which with 7.66 billion euros in 2022 is Romania’s largest exporter of services, is the economic branch most affected by Romania being kept out of Schengen.