Austria and the Netherlands Still Against Bulgaria and Romania’s Schengen Membership

Austria and the Netherlands Still Against Bulgaria and Romania’s Schengen Membership

Bulgaria and Romania are intensifying their diplomatic efforts to secure entry into the European Union's Schengen Area by year-end. However, Austrian and Dutch misgivings are likely to continue delaying their entry, as well as the economic benefits that come with it.

Austria and the Netherlands currently stand in the way of Bulgaria's Schengen accession, citing worries that both nations are not doing enough to prevent irregular migration into their territories.

A Bulgarian delegation has been in a series of meetings with the Austrian authorities to convince Austria to lift its veto on Bulgaria's accession to the passport-free Schengen area. 

However, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has confirmed his country's stance against expanding the Schengen border-free area through the admission of Bulgaria and Romania, although this decision has nothing to do with the two countries, the Bulgarian government said.

“This is an issue of security because we have very big challenges in the Schengen area. Interior ministers are saying that indeed the Schengen system is not functioning. Eleven EU member states now exercise internal control borders.”

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer

Eliminating formal border controls between Bulgaria and its EU neighbours, Greece and Romania, will free up resources to better defend the EU's external borders with Turkey and Serbia, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkovstressed. 

The move will also shorten border checkpoint waiting times for hauliers within the EU, which in turn will lower costs for goods transportation from Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania to Central and Eastern as well as Western Europe, thus helping lower inflation.

Earlier this year, both the European Commission and the European Parliament renewed calls for the two Balkan countries to be admitted to the Schengen area, a decision that requires unanimous support from all 27 EU member states.

Despite the European Parliament, the European Commission, and an overwhelming majority of Member States have already made clear that Romania and Bulgaria have a rightful place in Schengen, the Netherlands will also not remove its veto when it comes to Balkan countries' membership in the Schengen Zone.

Dutch Migration Minister, Eric van der Burg, has stated that the situation at the moment has not changed, and he doesn’t see it changing in the short term

EU leaders will cast another vote on Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen membership at the forthcoming EU Council meeting in December.

The Schengen area currently also excludes EU member states Cyprus and Ireland but includes non-EU states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Do you think Bulgaria and Romania will be able to join the Schengen Zone this year? Talk to us in the comment section below. Or if you need more advice on the above, contact us for further travel & immigration advice.

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