The Austrian authorities remain firm in their stance against the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen Area, Austria’s Ministry of the Interior has confirmed to SchengenVisaInfo.
While emphasising that Vienna’s clear position regarding this issue remains unchanged, the Ministry has said that as long as the system “Schengen” does not work, there is no point in expanding it.
“The fact is that nothing has changed in Austria’s clear position. As long as the system ‘Schengen’ does not work, there is no point in expanding it. Migration pressure remains high. This means that the external border protection clearly does not work. Against this background and from today’s point of view, Austria is unable to support the accession of Bulgaria and Romania at this stage,” the Ministry of the Interior stressed.
Local media reported that in September this year, Bulgaria’s Schengen readiness will be evaluated by a foreign mission with the participation of representatives from Austria and the Netherlands.
The same noted that such comments were made by Bulgaria’s Minister of Interior Kalin Stoyanov, following his meetings with the European Commissioner for the Interior, Ylva Johansson, and with the Minister of Migration of the Netherlands, Eric van der Burgh.
However, such claims were denied by Austria’s Ministry of the Interior, considering the remarks as fictitious.
“There will be no joint foreign mission, this is fictitious,” Austria’s Ministry of Interior said.
Citing illegal migration concerns, Bulgaria’s membership to the borderless area of Schengen was blocked in December last year by Austria and the Netherlands, despite estimations by the Commission that the Balkan country has met all the needed requirements.
The Interior Minister of Bulgaria also informed about the actions taken by Sofia, in fulfilment of the recommendation of the European Commission in a report on the rule of law.
In July, the cabinet of Bulgaria announced that it adopted a governance program giving priority to the accession to the Schengen Area by the end of this year, as well as the accession to the Eurozone by January 1, 2025.
Still Bulgaria’s membership to the Schengen Zone may not be finalised any time soon, with a caretaker government in the Netherlands, according to a report from Politico.
However, last month, the European Union’s Parliament adopted a resolution urging the EU Council to take this matter seriously and permit Bulgaria and Romania to become the newest members of the EU’s passport-free zone.