German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday said he hoped Romania would finally gain access to the passport-free European Union Schengen zone this year because Bucharest had met all criteria to do so.

Speaking alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Romanian capital, Scholz said their joint efforts to support neighbouring Moldova after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He also welcomed the opening of a maintenance hub in Romania by German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall.

Bulgaria and Romania have been kept out of the Schengen travel zone due to opposition over concerns about unauthorised immigration. (Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Luiza Ilie; writing by Matthias Williams; editing by Friederike Heine)