Two months after dropping the objection to Bulgaria’s membership to the Schengen Zone, the Netherlands is optimistic that Sofia’s land border accession to the borderless area will be finished by the end of this year.
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, expressed his hopes that the Balkan country will be included in the Schengen Area by the end of this year in terms of land borders.
His comments came after meeting with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Nikolai Denkov, in the Hague, emphasizing that he is proud of what Bulgaria has achieved. Rutte added that in the Netherlands’ eyes, Bulgaria is already a full member of Schengen.
Related to the inclusion of the land borders, the Dutch PM added that his country will continue to work actively with other states in order to achieve this goal, with Bulgaria aiming to join the eurozone at the beginning of 2025.
I envy your very low debt-to-GDP ratio, which is half of ours and a third of Germany’s.
Denkov noted that the Netherlands is the top investor in his country, stressing the importance of maintaining strong economic ties as the region develops.
We are grateful for the support of the Netherlands for all the European priorities of our government – Schengen, the eurozone, the OECD. These are priorities on which we are working very closely with our Western partners.
The accession of Bulgaria to the Schengen Area was blocked by Austria and the Netherlands in December 2022 over irregular migration concerns, in spite of the EU Commission considering that the country met all the needed requirements to become part of Schengen since 2011.
However, on December 15, Dutch Deputy Justice Minister Eric Can der Burg said that his country concluded that Sofia met all the needed conditions to join the Schengen Area by strengthening its borders in an effort to curb irregular migration.
Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen Zone by air and sea in March 2024, following Austria’s proposal called “Air Schengen.” However, last month, the Interior Minister of Austria Karner said that his country continues to maintain its veto when it comes to land border issues.
Nevertheless, Karner said that it is not just about Romania and Bulgaria, adding that the entire migration system is in a catastrophic situation.
In addition to the Netherlands’ prime minister, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recently expressed her hopes that both Bulgaria and Romania will soon become members of the Schengen Zone.