The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has expressed her hopes that Romania and Bulgaria will soon become members of the Schengen Zone.
She said that the European Commission has been convinced for several years that both Romania and Bulgaria are ready to join the Schengen Zone.
You can count on us to strengthen the borders further and convince Austria that Romania and Bulgaria deserve to be fully in Schengen.
The President of the European Commission said that the EU had undertaken several European-funded projects in recent months in order to strengthen the borders in both these two Balkan countries and on-site fact-finding missions, which have convinced Austria to take the first steps towards air and maritime Schengen.
In addition, she emphasised that the recently agreed-upon increased multiannual EU budget includes additional resources for strengthening the borders, as quoted by Digi24.
Recently, the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel and Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita-Teodora Odobescu vowed to cooperate actions in order to acquire full membership to the Schengen Zone.
Romania and Bulgaria’s membership to the Schengen Zone was blocked by Austria in December 2022 over irregular migration concerns. However, recently, Vienna unfolded the “Air Schengen” proposal that allowed these two countries to access the Schengen zone by air and sea starting from March 2024.
However, Austria’s Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, said that when it comes to the land border accession, his country continues to maintain its veto, considering the further expansion of the Schengen Area in terms of land borders inappropriate at this stage.
And this will only be realised if the external border is protected. This is also an essential part of the new asylum and migration pact that the EU has agreed on and which we must implement. Only then will there be complete freedom of movement in the EU again?
Recently, Romanian MEPs Dacian Ciolos and Vlad Gheorghe, as well as Greek MEP Georgios Kyrtsos and Bulgarian MP Daniel Laurer, called on Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum, Dimitris Kairidis, to abolish border controls between these three countries in order to ease tourist traffic in summer.
However, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Nikolay Denkov, emphasised that the abolishment of land border controls between these three countries is not being discussed at the political level. Furthermore, he noted that such a step would go against EU legislation.